Canadian Law Enforcement Agency Benefits from Accreditation
by Jacquie Daumont, Deputy Chief
Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, Alberta Justice and Solicitor General
Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, located in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada is a branch of the Alberta Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General. It was established in 1952 as the primary governmental body responsible for monitoring and enforcing the safety of commercial vehicles in the province. With a diverse industrial base that includes oil, agriculture, forestry, and related products, Alberta has one of the strongest economies in North America. The province has experienced a high rate of growth in recent years, with the population expected to grow by 27 percent by 2030.
Commercial Vehicle Enforcement is a CALEA C size agency with 141 sworn positions. As appointed Provincial Peace Officers, officers enforce provincial and federal acts and regulations, which require a high degree of expertise, and cover a jurisdiction roughly the size of the state of Texas.
In 1999, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement, through the vision of Chief Steve Callahan, made the decision to pursue CALEA Law Enforcement Accreditation. Chief Callahan began the process by first speaking to all employees about CALEA Accreditation and its benefits, and then listened to their thoughts on the process. Before he made the decision to pursue accreditation, he also secured resources and political commitment to their enrollment. With very high willingness and support from agency personnel, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement began this positive professional undertaking and received initial accreditation from CALEA in November 2001. The award ceremony came shortly after the events of 9/11 and solidified immediately that even though the agency was based in a different country, it was part of the same law enforcement family. It was also evident from the beginning how belonging to this international organization improves communication, coordination, and cooperation amongst all agencies.
Since its initial accreditation award, the agency has maintained its accreditation status. During its last award cycle, it transitioned to the PowerDMS™ document management software and for its next reaccreditation, the agency elected to have a Gold Standard Assessment. Chief Callahan praised the Gold Standard Assessment as extremely valuable and directly attributed the agency’s success to the ability and willingness of agency personnel to commit to the process. Commercial Vehicle Enforcement was awarded Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation with Excellence, its fifth certification, in November 2013.
Commercial Vehicle Enforcement takes a “team” approach to accreditation. With staff in locations across the province, personnel in each district and region are designated as accreditation representatives, directly responsible for communicating the process in their area. Bi-monthly conference calls with all representatives are held by the accreditation manager in order to share program changes and answer emerging questions.
Commercial Vehicle Enforcement encourages any law enforcement agency to consider accreditation. The accreditation process is not cost prohibitive and the benefits more than compensate for the resources needed to be accredited. One of the biggest benefits comes through compliance to standards requiring audit, administrative review, analyses, and evaluations by time specific intervals. These allow the agency to pre-emptively determine if any policy, training, equipment, or disciplinary issues should be addressed.
Accreditation has also played a positive role in the professionalism of the branch. Prior to accreditation, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement did not have a comprehensive set of directives and procedures all staff could readily access. With this now in place electronically through PowerDMS, the agency can easily update and send out information, and be confident each employee has received the same information. Accreditation has also helped the agency institute psychological assessments, where prior to accreditation this was not a government practice for peace officer candidates during recruitment. The agency has found this screening tool to be very helpful in staff selection. Consistency in training and officer safety are also key areas positively impacted by compliance with CALEA Standards.
There is considerable assistance available for new or accredited agencies. Other accredited agencies are willing to share directives and assist where possible. CALEA provides clients with an interactive website with discussion and feedback forums. The CALEA Sample Policy Library is also available, which Commercial Vehicle Enforcement has utilized on numerous occasions, most recently to develop a directive on active threats. CALEA also assigns a regional program manager to each agency to provide guidance when questions come up regarding standards compliance. In addition, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement is a member of the Canadian Police Accreditation Coalition (CANPAC). CANPAC recognizes and supports accreditation of law enforcement agencies as a means of enhancing quality law enforcement services throughout Canada, and provides a support network for member agencies to cooperate, train, and share resources.
The voluntary accreditation process also has built-in flexibility, so that any agency, even specialized areas of law enforcement, as well as agencies from different jurisdictions and countries, can comply with the same standards. For example, when complying with Law Enforcement Standard 31.2.1 (Recruitment Plan), Canadian legislation prohibits collection of candidate ethnic, racial or gender information during recruitment. CALEA recognizes legislation may impact the legality of efforts associated with this standard. To that end, the Commission provides that “agencies outside the United States of America that have controlling legislation contrary to the intent of this standard shall provide such legislation as a written directive and adhere to that legislation. In all cases, international agencies shall comply with the standard in totality, except those parts governed by the controlling legislation.”
Accreditation truly promotes interaction between regional, national, and international agencies, fostering an advancement and exchange of best practices for the communities served. This extended communication ensures law enforcement is continually sharing vital information and improving processes. Commercial Vehicle Enforcement takes great pride in being internationally law enforcement accredited and part of the CALEA family.