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Old Bridge police department achieves re-accreditation

Eric Sucar
Various members of law enforcement gather outside of the Great Auditorium prior to the 33rd annual New Jersey Enforcement Memorial Service held in Ocean Grove on May 23. Police officers from throughout New Jersey gathered for the annual service to remember those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

OLD BRIDGE — The Old Bridge Police Department (OBPD) has joined an exclusive group of law enforcement agencies by reaching re-accreditation status.

Harry Delgado, accreditation program manager for the New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police, said there are 500 or so law enforcement agencies in New Jersey eligible to apply for accreditation status.

“To date, 182 [agencies] have completed the process at least once,” he said. “This is about 34 percent of all the agencies that could apply. Old Bridge Police just reached re-accreditation [status], which puts them in a group that’s only eight percent of the law enforcement agencies in the state that have achieved re-accreditation. This is totally remarkable.”

Delgado presented an accreditation certificate to Capt. Joseph Mandola and Officer Herbert Doctors, who worked on the accreditation process together, at the Township Council meeting on Aug. 7.

“Accreditation is a long tedious process that is nothing that we take lightly,” Mandola said as he accepted the certificate on behalf of Police Chief William Volkert. “We have to make sure that all our officers are accountable for everything that they do. We have to make sure our reports are accountable when it comes to court [proceedings] and when it comes to the law to make sure we can justify everything we do and everything we stand by.”

Mandola said Doctors came on board to help him with the process.

“He’s been an instrumental help in getting through this process,” he said. “[The process] is basically a full-time job; however, because of other jobs we hold, we had to share and put extra time in to reach this accreditation.”

Delgado said the re-accreditation process takes two years to complete and an accreditation status lasts for three years.

The accreditation process outlines best practices for law enforcement agencies. Accredited status represents a significant professional achievement.

“There are 105 standards, many of which require more than one proof of compliance,” Delgado said. “Accreditation is a progressive and time-proven way of calculating and improving [the law enforcement agency’s] overall process. It is a certification of independent review and authority by the [New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission].”

Delgado said research shows that law enforcement agencies that are accredited have 11 percent fewer police brutality and liability claims, some 18 percent fewer workers compensation claims and 31 percent fewer auto liability claims when it comes to the Joint Insurance Fund and affiliated insurance groups.

In addition to fiscal advantages, it gives agencies a better defense against lawsuits and civil complaints, Delgado said.

“Accreditation provides objectives, commitment to excellence and leadership, resource management and resource delivery,” he said. “Government officials can be more confident in the agencies’ ability to operate efficiently and meet community needs.”

Delgado said accreditation embodies the concept of community policing.

“It creates a format where police and citizens work together to prevent and control challenges that face law enforcement and provide clear direction of community expectations,” he said.

Delgado said at the end of three years, members of the New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police have an onsite visit making sure the agency provides the approvals demonstrating compliance.

He said the assessors this time around noted the Old Bridge Police Department’s continuous work with the community and the schools.

The department has a school resource program under the direction of the department’s Detective Bureau with three full-time school resource officers assigned to serve with the Old Bridge Township High School and the two middle schools, Jonas Salk and Carl Sandburg.

The department also has special law enforcement officers deployed to supplement the full-time officers in the township’s 12 elementary schools.

“The program has resulted in an enhanced level of security and protection of students attending schools in the township along with building a bond with the younger population at a very early age,” Delgado said.

Mayor Owen Henry said the accreditation process is no easy task and he along with the Township Council praised the department for reaching the re-accreditation status.

Contact Kathy Chang at kchang@newspapermediagroup.com.

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