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The Wilson Police Department has been an accredited agency since 1987, but officials took it a step further by attaining the gold standard.
“Gold standard is the highest we could apply for as a law enforcement agency. Our department is rich within the accreditation process, therefore we knew we could achieve this status,” said Capt. Kendra Howell. “This type of standard is more interview intensive than a regular on-site assessment. We had confidence in our personnel and our agency that we could achieve this status.”
Wilson was the second department in the state to be accredited through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, following best practices in all areas of law enforcement. Based on the department’s size, Wilson could have opted out on some of the standards, but officials achieved 320 mandatory standards and 75 optional ones.
There is a considerable amount of behind-the-scenes work to achieve accreditation, which is only completed by 5 percent of agencies across the country. The gold standard adds interviews by assessors with employees, city of Wilson leadership and the public.
“(Assessors) were extremely impressed with our community-oriented policing and Police Athletic League,” Howell said. “They commented that we have taken COP and PAL to another level they haven’t seen at other departments. They were also complimentary of our partnership with Barton College.”
Only 13 out of more than 160 accredited departments took it one step further and were voted to receive the status of excellence — and Wilson was among the recipients. Gold standard with excellence is the highest achievement a department can reach.
“I am extremely pleased with the reaccreditation and I appreciate the support from the city council and the citizens,” Police Chief Thomas Hopkins said at the May 16 council meeting where the honor was announced. “Our personnel works very hard to do the right thing and we take what we do very seriously.”
Howell said accreditation is the culmination of hard work on the part of every member of the department with the high standards integrated into the agency’s culture.
“Accreditation is important to our department and the city for numerous reasons. Mainly, accreditation means the best practices within the field of law enforcement,” she said. “CALEA is constantly ensuring departments are changing with the ever-changing environment that we work to police, serve and protect.
“It is a road map for us to follow. CALEA drives our policies and procedures and ensures we are constantly performing within the framework of those standards.”