For the fourth time, the Mahwah Police Department has achieved national accreditation, Chief James Batelli announced in a release Thursday. The PD had to meet over 400 performance standards in order to qualify for the recognition, which was granted at the winter meeting of the CALEA Commission, Batelli said.
Developed in 1984, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA, outlines international standards for law enforcement agencies of different types and sizes. If an agency can prove during a review process that it is in compliance with all of the standards, it becomes an “accredited” agency. The Mahwah PD was first accredited in 2003, then again in 2006 and 2009. This year’s accreditation renewal will last another three years.
The commission granted the renewal after a four-day on-site assessment in March, solicitation of resident reviews of the police department, and interviews about the PD’s assessment with Batelli and Accreditation Manager Mahwah Sgt. Robert Curtis.
"Simply put, there is no higher achievement in the law enforcement community,” Batelli said in the release. Only about 2% of all police agencies in the state and 5% in the country achieve the national accreditation, he said.
The cost to the township for becoming accredited is just over $10,000. According to Batelli, “the end result is a better police force. Every time we’ve gone through this process, we have improved how the agency operates,” he said.
In addition, the accreditation also allows for the township to get a “significantly lower” insurance premium from Mahwah’s insurance carrier, Batelli said.
Mayor Bill Laforet released a statement commending the department for the reaccreditation.
“I understand it is a tremendous amount of work to achieve this goal, but…it assures me that the taxpayers of this community are receiving professional services from our police force and they operate in an accountable and transparent manner,” he said. “It is truly a tremendous accomplishment by the entire agency.”
Batelli reiterated a sentiment he’s expressed throughout the accreditation process – that every member of the police force contributes to the recognition.
“The goal would never be achieved without the work and dedication of each and every officer of the agency. [They are] all committed to the mission statement of the agency.”