JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Jonesboro Police Department recently became one of the first departments in the state to be accredited through a new program in Arkansas.
Though accreditation is a voluntary process, it means the agency meets or exceeds standards set for law enforcement agencies.
Previously, JPD was accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA, which is a national accreditation program.
In September, JPD was accepted into a new accreditation program through the state of Arkansas.
The program, called Arkansas Law Enforcement Accreditation Program, or ALEAP, was created to help Arkansas agencies in meeting their professional obligations to the citizens of Arkansas.
One major benefit to the switch is that a lot of tax payer money is being saved.
According to Jonesboro Police Chief Rick Elliott, the program costs approximately $2,000 a year less than the national program.
However, the new program will mean changes at the department as well.
Chief Elliott told Region 8 News that the biggest change they'll face is in regards to when newly hired officers can hit the streets.
"Generally, we hire an officer and after he or she completes our initial 8-week phase of training, then they're able eligible to start riding in the vehicle," Chief Elliott explained. "But at this point, they will not be able to ride in the vehicle until they're academy certified."
Chief Elliott said since there are only two academy classes a year, it will likely change the police department's hiring practices to fall more in line with when those classes take place.
"That's the biggest adjustment we're going to have to make," Chief Elliott said. "The analogy is you don't put a hairstylist or a barber out til they're state certified. You don't put a paramedic out until they're state certified so we're just trying to up the professionalism of the department and law enforcement across the state."
The accredited status is awarded for three years. The department must submit annual reports and proofs of compliance during that time.
Once the three year period comes to an end, the department prepares documentation of standards and another on-site review is conducted before accreditation is awarded again.
The cost for a police department to become accredited through ALEAP depends on the size of their department.
Since JPD has more than 151 officers, their fee is $2,000. A department with one to ten sworn officers would pay a yearly fee of $250.
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