Burnside Police Department has achieved a major milestone more than a year in the making.
During Monday's meeting of Burnside City Council, Shawn Butler with the Kentucky Association of Chiefs of Police (KACP) presented Burnside Chief of Police Mike Hill with a certificate affirming the local department's accreditation with the state organization.
"I would like to tell you that they did an excellent job, and it is tough for a department of their size to achieve this," Butler told the council during his presentation. "It's a very big honor."
Burnside PD currently offers 24/7 police coverage with five full-time and two-part time officers. On Tuesday, Chief Hill reiterated Butler's comments about a small agency earning accreditation.
"It's a big accomplishment and something that we're very proud of," he said. "We didn't have the manpower to assign someone that task. I oversaw the process in my free time apart from my regular duties."
The chief also talked about the accreditation's extensive nature -- noting that previous police chief Craig Whitaker first started the process.
"When he retired, he [Chief Whitaker] stressed how important it was that the accreditation process continue," Chief Hill said, "and I am proud that we were able to carry that out."
It took some 16 months to complete the process, which includes meeting a total of 173 professional standards as well as an on-site evaluation by KACP. Chief Hill explained that many of those standards pertain to reviewing and updating policies and procedures as well as evidence handling (collection, storage and maintenance).
The accreditation process begins with an agency's self-evaluation. According to KACP, "Law Enforcement executives who choose to have their agencies accredited under this program have examined all aspects of their operations." The departments are able to adapt policies and procedures to fit the requirements of their jurisdictions, implement those policies and train their employees in their use.
When ready for a formal evaluation, inspectors from accredited agencies visit the department -- examining all aspects of operation against accreditation standards. If the standards are met, the agency is recommended to the accreditation board. Once approved, two presentations follow: one for the local government and one for the Chief of Police Conference later this month.
With the Somerset Police Department and Pulaski County Sheriff's Office having already earned KACP accreditation, Chief Hill said he is glad that Burnside has been able to achieve the same performance level as those neighboring agencies as well as larger ones around Kentucky.
In addition to the community's knowing that Burnside meets or exceeds the commonwealth's highest professional standards for law enforcement, KACP accreditation can also entail such tangible benefits as helping to reduce liability insurance costs, minimize risk of liability lawsuits and attract the most qualified officers for employment.
For more information about what it means for an agency to be accredited, visit kypolicechiefs.org/accreditation/law-enforcement-accreditation-program/.