The Northampton Police Department is accredited by the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission. The purpose of accreditation is to improve the delivery of public safety services, primarily by: complying with a body of standards, developed by public safety practitioners, covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence.
Police accreditation is a process by which a police agency formally evaluates its activities and seeks an independent judgment that it substantially achieves its own objectives and is generally equal in quality to comparable agencies.
The essential elements of the accreditation process are: an onsite evaluation by a selected group of peers and a decision by an independent commission that the agency is worthy of accreditation.
In order to be an accredited police agency, a police department must meet certain standards established by the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission. These standards reflect the best professional practices in each area of police management, administration, operation and support services. The Northampton Police Department must prove compliance with 252 mandatory standards and a minimum of 80 optional standards to be eligible for accreditation.
The accreditation process involves five phases: application, self-assessment, pre-assessment, onsite assessment and the commission review and maintenance of compliance. In 1997 NPD was accepted into the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Program along with 160 other Massachusetts Police Departments. During the second phase, self-assessment, department members conducted a thorough examination and analysis of all departmental rules and regulations and policies and procedures. During phase three the department received reviews indicating its readiness for the full assessment by the Commission-appointed Assessors. Phase four, the assessment phase, occurred on September 17, 18 and 19, 2002. A team of three trained assessors, free of conflict with the department, conducted our first on-site review. Finally, based upon the findings and recommendations of the Assessment Team, the Commission voted to grant accreditation. Accreditation was awarded for a three-year period. The department was reviewed and re-accredited again in 2005 and in 2009.
The most recent on-site review occurred in September, 2011. We are extremely proud of our accreditation status and find that it has a number of benefits:
- Accreditation ensures the operational readiness of the Northampton Police Department.
- Accreditation insures that the department's policies and procedures and rules and regulations are in line with modern professional standards.
- Accreditation promotes a strong emphasis on officer safety.
- Accreditation provides an ongoing, independent evaluation of the Northampton Police Department.
- Accreditation improves the quality of individuals who apply for employment with our agency.
- Accreditation provides each member of the department with a sense of pride, knowing that their agency has met such high, professional standards.
The Northampton Police Department was only the sixth police department in the state to become accredited. This achievement is due to the high level of professionalism with which the women and men of our department have always served the City of Northampton, its citizens, and its visitors.