BBPD asking for citizen review and input

The Bethany Beach Police Department is asking citizens and visitors for their input on the department and its officers. The new Web-based citizen satisfaction survey was introduced March 20 on the town’s revamped Web site and asks respondents to evaluate the police and public safety in a number of areas.

Questions relate to how the citizen feels about the safety of their neighborhood, the town and its business district, during both daytime and nighttime, as well as the demeanor of officers with whom the person completing the survey has had contact.

According to BBPD Capt. Ralph Mitchell, the survey is just one part of the department’s ongoing efforts to receive the coveted Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. (CALEA) accreditation.

“We are taking the final step in an attempt to get accredited as police,” Mitchell explained this week, adding that such a survey is just one of the requirements of the CALEA accreditation process.

Mitchell said a CALEA accreditation team was expected to visit the department Monday to continue the final phase of the BBPD’s accreditation.

After that, the CALEA review committee will hold hearings to determine whether the department will receive accreditation. If so, the accreditation is good for three years, during which time the department would be required to maintain CALEA standards and submit an annual report in order to be reaccredited.

The CALEA standards address nine major law enforcement subjects:

• role, responsibilities and relationships with other agencies;

• organization, management and administration;

• personnel structure;

• personnel process;

• operations;

• operational support;

• traffic operations;

• prisoner and court-related activities; and

• auxiliary and technical services.

According to CALEA, the standards help law enforcement agencies:

• strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities;

• formalize essential management procedures;

• establish fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices;

• improve service delivery;

• solidify interagency cooperation and coordination; and

• boost citizen and staff confidence in the agency.

Benefits are said to include:

• Greater accountability within the agency — CALEA Standards give the chief executive officer a proven management system of written directives, sound training, clearly defined lines of authority, and routine reports that support decision-making and resource allocation.

• Reduced risk and liability exposure — Many agencies report a reduction in their liability insurance costs and/or reimbursement of accreditation fees.

• Stronger defense against civil lawsuits — Accredited agencies are better able to defend themselves against civil lawsuits. Also, many agencies report a decline in legal actions against them, once they become accredited.

• Staunch support from government officials — Accreditation provides objective evidence of an agency’s commitment to excellence in leadership, resource management, and service-delivery. Thus, government officials are more confident in the agency’s ability to operate efficiently and meet community needs.

• Increased community advocacy — Accreditation embodies the precepts of community-oriented policing. It creates a forum in which law enforcement agencies and citizens work together to prevent and control challenges confronting law enforcement and provides clear direction about community expectations.

The BBPD citizen satisfaction survey can be found on the town’s Web site, at www.townofbethanybeach.com/forms.asp?fid=51.