Hopewell Township Police Department to undergo accreditation process

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Hopewell Township and Hopewell Borough residents who want to weigh in on the Hopewell Township Police Department’s efforts to gain accreditation by the New Jersey State Association of Police Chiefs may do so through a short telephone call to the assessment team Feb. 17.

During its onsite visit to the Hopewell Township Police Department, the assessment team will listen to comments from the public between 10-11 a.m. Feb. 17. Telephone comments are limited to five minutes. Callers may contact the team at 609-737-0605, ext. 6660.

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Telephone comments and written comments must address the police department’s ability to comply with New Jersey State Association of Police Chiefs (NJSACOP) standards. Information about the standards is available by contacting police Lt. Louis Vastola at 609-737-3100, ext. 5320.

Those standards include administrative, personnel and operations standards and investigative functions, as well as arrestee/detainer/prisoner handling functions.

Emailed comments may be sent to Vastola at lvastola@hopewelltwp.org, or to Harry Delgado, the accreditation program director at the NJSACOP, at hdelgado@njsacop.

Letters about the Hopewell Township Police Department’s ability to comply with the standards may be mailed to the NJSACOP, Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission at 751 Route 73 North, Suite 12, Marlton NJ 08053.

The assessment team is made up of law enforcement officers from similar law enforcement agencies, Delgado said.

The assessment team will review written material and interview police department employees. They will visit offices and other places where compliance with standards can be observed, Delgado said.

Once the assessment team completes its review of the Hopewell Township Police Department, it will report to the full commission, he said. The commission will decide whether the police department should be granted accredited status.

Verification by the team that the Hopewell Township Police Department meets the commission’s “best practices” standards is part of a voluntary process to achieve accreditation, said Police Chief James Rosso.

“Accreditation is a highly prized recognition of law enforcement professional excellence,” Rosso said.

Accreditation results in greater accountability within the police department, reduced risk and liability exposure, and a stronger defense against civil lawsuits, he said.

“It also results in increased community advocacy, and more confidence in the police department’s ability to operate efficiently and respond to community needs,” Rosso said.

If accreditation is granted, it is valid for a three-year period. The Hopewell Township Police Department must submit annual reports attesting to its continued compliance with those standards under which it was initially accredited.

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