ALBANY, Ga. -- The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) recently sent an assessment team to complete a report on the Albany Police Department's compliance with its accreditation standards.
As part of the assessment, members of the community and law enforcement personnel were invited Monday evening to comment on the APD's ability to comply with those standards through a public session held at the APD Law Enforcement Center.
Heading up the forum was Mike McLaurin, town manager for Waxhaw, N.C., and Lt. Deborah Morgan of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Police Department Investigations Unit. They are members of a team expected to be investigating the APD to determine its worthiness for accreditation based on 480 standards.
Members of the public were allowed to give their input on their experiences with the department. Among those participating was Jim Deal, president of Albany Communications.
"There has been a vast improvement in the Albany Police Department (since Chief John Proctor came on board)," he said. "I feel like they are extremely accountable. ... I think they are very worthy of the accreditation they are looking for."
Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul used the words "professionalism" and "competency" to describe the APD.
"If you were to compare the APD now to what it was before Chief John Proctor came ... you would be singing accolades," he said.
John Fields, chief of police for the Albany State University Police Department, also spoke of the working relationship his agency has with the city's police officers -- which appears to be an effective one.
"The collaboration has been great," he said. "We help them out, they help us out. Overall, up the chain of command, (the APD) is very resourceful."
Dougherty County Coroner Michael Fowler and Butch Knight, lead pastor of First Baptist Church of Albany, were among the others to say positive things about the department.
Proctor said the team was expected to wrap up its assessment Wednesday and that officials should hear word of whether CALEA accreditation was received by November.
Proctor added that such an accreditation would rank the APD among the top agencies internationally and build on the more 100 standards required for accreditation by the state -- which the APD had renewed last year.
"This is a very important process," the chief said. "This convinces the public that we are a professional organization."
The state re-accredits every three years, as does CALEA, Proctor said. Achieving CALEA accreditation, which the APD has been aggressively pursuing over the last 18 months, would have a number of benefits for the department and community as a whole, officials say.
"It helps the city in terms of bond financing (and business growth)," the police chief said. "It will also help us with our recruiting. It will help us in a number of ways.
"There are a lot of benefits."
Individuals may also voice their input in writing and mail their comments to CALEA at 13575 Heathcote Blvd., Suite 320, Gainesville, Va., 20155, or email them to caleacalea.org (place the name of the agency in the subject line).
CALEA can also be contacted by phone at (703) 352-4225.