SPOTSWOOD–After beginning its mission nearly two years ago, the Spotswood Police Department has earned its accreditation from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJSACOP).
Accreditation Program Manager Harry Delgado presented Chief of Police Michael Zarro and Sgt. Edward Schapley with an accreditation plaque on April during the Borough Council meeting.
“The purpose of my visit is to recognize the police department and I do bring proof of one of the certainly best in the state of New Jersey and arguably national because they not only follow state best practices but national best practices,” Delgado said.
Delgado said there are about 568 law enforcement agencies in New Jersey that would be eligible to apply for accreditation, but currently only one-third of those have actually achieved it. The accreditation process is a very rigorous process that takes a lot of dedication and commitment from the police chief, his administration, command staff and his rank, he said.
“Accreditation is a process. The foundation in accreditation lies in the adaptation of standards containing a clear statement of professional objectives. Standards in the State of New Jersey, there are 105 standards,” Delgado said. “Accreditation is the progressive and time-proven way of helping law enforcement agencies calculate and improve their overall performance.”
Delgado said earning accreditation is a certification by an independent authority, which in this case is the NJSACOP, to which the agency was carefully measured against an established set of not only state but national standards.
With the police department meeting the standards set forth by the NJSACOP, Delgado said, “I am proud to say in many instances [the police department] has succeeded accepted practices in the field of law enforcement.”
Delgado said public research shows that accredited agencies have 11% fewer professional liability claims, 11% fewer worker-compensation claims and 31% fewer liability claims. Moreover, agencies that are accredited stand to receive substantial insurance premium discounts.
“Accredited agencies are better able to defend against lawsuits and citizen complaints; accreditation proves objective evidence of an agency’s commitment to excellence in leadership, resource management and service delivery,” he said.
Delgado said government officials can be more confident in the agency’s ability to operate efficiently and meet community needs.
“Since the appointment of the Chief of Police, Chief [Michael Zarro], they completed a total transformation of the culture of the Spotswood Police Department including its professional standards, appearances, the processes, the equipment, the policies, the procedures, the leadership and the management,” Delgado said. “The agency has accomplished all these goals with integrity, honor, resilience and the highest ethical standards.”
In order to earn its accreditation, Zarro said the police department “completely changed our whole culture here and we just started fresh with a brand new policy system. Some people use directives, some people use standard operating procedures … but we completely started all over and created a whole new hybrid. It took us a little over two years.”
Zarro said that finally earning this accreditation was a team effort.
“Obviously, I am in charge of it and I had the architecture, but Sgt. Edward Schapley was my what they called accreditation manager, but I had to do it as a team so everybody in the police department did their part as a team,” Zarro said. “So I am very proud of everybody here that worked together to get it done [and] everybody helped out in one way or the other. From the top to the bottom, our records secretary to our dispatchers, everybody helped.”
For more information, visit www.spotswoodboro.com/borough-council.
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