VENTNOR — The Police Department has received accreditation from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, Chief Douglas Biagi said Wednesday, June 14. The department will receive its certificate during an official presentation at a future meeting of the Board of Commissioners.
“We completed our onsite assessment in April and had an in-depth hearing in front of a panel of about 10 the best chiefs and captains in the state,” Biagi said during an interview at his office.
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The department also was required to solicit written comments from the public about how they view the department.
He said the department fared well during the investigatory process and the association found no shortcomings in the department.
Biagi said the department was originally accredited during the tenure of his predecessor, Chief Michael Miller.
“It was handed to me for re-accreditation four years ago. We had to revamp all our operations to conform with the latest best practices policies. It took all four years to get that done,” he said. “We hired the Rogers Group to mentor us along the way.”
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Biagi called obtaining the accreditation the “highlight” of his career as a police officer in Ventnor.
“I now understand why all these administrative rules and standards are in place,” he said.
The latest best practice guidelines take the “discretion” out of the decision-making process and puts into place “tried and true” practices, he said.
“With that, we are less liable to violate someone’s rights, and we can ensure that both the victim and accused are treated fairly. These policies offer checks and balances for law enforcement,” Biagi said.
Accreditation could also help reduce the cost of liability insurance, he said.
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The updated policies are in writing and shared with every officer, who must sign off on them. Operations functions include the latest in arrest procedures, search and seizure, interrogations, motor vehicle pursuits, homeland security, fieldwork and communications.
“Everyone needs boundaries,” Biagi said. “These written policies set parameters and limitations, which are designed to protect law enforcement and everyone involved.”
Guidelines on everything from use of force and handling domestic violence calls to adult and juvenile arrest procedures and firearms training are all governed by the state Attorney General and Atlantic County Prosecutor.
“Our policies must abide by both,” he said.
Accreditation is voluntary.
According to the association’s website, “comprehensive and effective leadership through professionally based policy development is directly influenced by a law enforcement program that is thorough, complete, and obtainable, and based on standards that reflect professional best practices.”
Accreditation is valid for three years, during which the department will be monitored and administrators must submit annual reports demonstrating compliance with the standards.