Seven Police Departments in East Central Wisconsin Obtain Certification
Reader question: Which police services in the region are accredited?
Responnse: The Wisconsin Law Enforcement Accreditation Group (WILEAG) lists 41 agencies statewide that have achieved full accreditation, which is valid for three years.
In east-central Wisconsin, seven agencies hold the distinction:
- Fond du Lac Police Department (accreditation in 2020)
- Fox Crossing Police Department (accreditation in 2021)
- Grande Chute Police Department (reaccreditation in 2020)
- Menasha Police Department (reaccreditation in 2021)
- Neenah Police Department (accreditation in 2019)
- Oshkosh Police Department (re-accreditation in 2018; this is on a four-year cycle due to also being accredited at national level)
- Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office (Reaccreditation in 2019)
To obtain full accreditation, agencies must meet 242 professional standards. They must also submit annual reports attesting to continued compliance with the standards.
In addition, WILEAG lists the Chilton, Kiel and Wrightstown police departments as part of its Basic Standards Verification Program, which means they have met 49 standards.
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Grand Chute was first accredited in 2014 and was reaccredited in 2017 and 2020. Police Chief Greg Peterson is a member of the WILEAG Board of Directors and former President of WILEAG. He is a strong supporter of accreditation.
“It’s a lot of work, but it’s valuable work that every agency should take on,” he said. “There is no excuse for not being in compliance with mandatory policies in the state of Wisconsin, in my opinion. I know there are agencies out there that are not in compliance.”
Accreditation begins with a self-assessment and the police department takes all necessary steps to comply with WILEAG standards. Most often this will involve rewriting policies and procedures to match the latest professional standards, but it may involve creating changes to improve the security of evidence storage, for example.
After the self-assessment, WILEAG sends a team of inspectors to assess the police service’s compliance with the standards. The team presents its findings to the WILEAG Board of Directors, which votes on whether or not to grant accreditation.
Peterson said the accreditation demonstrates that a police service aligns with the latest and best practices in the industry. WILEAG updated its standards after new laws were passed this summer governing strangulation and an officer’s duty to intervene if another officer uses excessive force.
“You have to stay in compliance, or you will lose your accreditation,” he said.
Peterson said there are over 550 police departments in Wisconsin, so being among the 41 to get accredited is “a badge of honor.” He said job applicants sought out Grand Chute Police because of his accreditation.
Police departments can adhere to laws and best practices without going through accreditation, but Peterson said scrutiny by an outside team can be revealing.
“If we just convince ourselves we’re good, you know, you don’t know what you don’t know,” he said.
The Neenah Police Department is in the process of re-accreditation. A WILEAG team was on site three days earlier this month.
“Our staff and citizens can be proud that their police service seeks this much sought-after recognition of excellence in law enforcement,” Police Chief Aaron Olson said in a statement.
Post-Crescent reporter Duke Behnke answers your questions about local government. Send your questions to [email protected] or call him at 920-993-7176.