Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs provide general information about the Law Enforcement Accreditation Program. If you do not find the answer to your question, please email us or call us at 518-457-2667.

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What is the NYS Law Enforcement Accreditation Program?

The NYS Law Enforcement Accreditation Program provides formal recognition that an agency meets or exceeds general expectations of quality in the field. The program has four principal goals:

  • To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement agencies utilizing existing personnel, equipment and facilities to the extent possible;
  • To promote increased cooperation and coordination among law enforcement agencies and other agencies of the criminal justice system;
  • To ensure the appropriate training of law enforcement personnel; and
  • To promote public confidence in law enforcement.

In essence, accreditation acknowledges the implementation of policies that are conceptually sound and operationally effective. The cornerstone of the Accreditation Program lies in established standards that contain a clear statement of professional requirements. Agencies participating in the Program conduct a thorough analysis of their organization to determine how existing operations can be adapted to meet established standards. When an agency adopts policies and procedures that meet the standards, a team of independent professionals conducts an on-site assessment to verify that all applicable standards have been successfully implemented. This process culminates with a decision by the NYS Law Enforcement Accreditation Council that the agency is worthy of accreditation.

What is the NYS Law Enforcement Accreditation Council?

The Accreditation Council provides overall direction and consists of 17 members appointed by the Governor. The Council meets quarterly and issues standards, sets policy and has exclusive authority to grant accreditation status. Members include representatives from the state chiefs' and sheriffs' associations, the Superintendent of State Police, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department, an official of a statewide police labor organization, an incumbent police officer, a deputy sheriff and a college professor of criminal justice. Other members represent the Association of Counties, the Association of Towns, the Conference of Mayors, the New York State Senate, and the Assembly.

What is the role of the NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services?

The enabling legislation established the Accreditation Council within the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Personnel of the Division's Office of Public Safety serve as the staff arm of the Council, providing technical support to participating agencies and all aspects of daily administration. More »

Who may participate in the Program?

Any full-time or part-time law enforcement agency employing a police officer, as defined in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (j), (k), (l), (o), (p) and (s) in section 1.20 of the NYS Criminal Procedure Law.

How much does it cost?

There is no application fee and all materials are provided at no cost. Associated costs to participate in the Program could include salaries of personnel assigned to work on the project, however this would not represent new costs to the agency. Other expenses could include non-personal service costs to purchase supplies and equipment to meet program standards. These expenses have been minimal according to agencies who have completed the process.

What are the benefits of being accredited?

The New York State Law Enforcement Accreditation Program enables administrators to strengthen existing procedures while simultaneously creating a solid foundation for the agency's future. The benefits of accreditation include:

  • Independent confirmation that policies comply with professional standards
  • Assurance of fair recruitment, selection and promotion processes
  • Diminished vulnerability to civil law suits and costly settlements
  • Enhanced understanding by agency personnel of agency policies and procedures
  • Greater administrative and operational effectiveness
  • Greater public confidence in the agency

In the final analysis, the impact of the Accreditation Program stems from the profound commitment that New York law enforcement executives have made to professionalism and from their desire to provide the best possible services to the communities that they serve.

How many standards are there and what areas do they focus on?

There are a total of 133 Accreditation Standards which are divided into three categories. Standards in the Administration Section have provisions for such topics as agency organization, fiscal management, personnel practices and records. Training Standards encompass basic and in-service instruction as well as training for supervisors and specialized or technical assignments. Operations Standards deal with such critical and litigious topics as high-speed pursuits, roadblocks, patrol and unusual occurrences.

Participating agencies are normally expected to implement all program standards. However, some standards do not apply to all agencies, and waivers may be obtained in exceptional circumstances. The Council also recognizes that state and local laws, codes, rules and regulations and current bargaining agreements are binding in nature. As such, they take precedence over program standards and definitions. more »

How does an agency get started in the Program?

Officials who wish to participate in the Accreditation Program must submit an Application. The enabling legislation specifies that applications must be signed by both the agency's chief law enforcement officer, and by the municipality's chief elected officer or a representative of the local governing body. The chief or sheriff will also be asked to sign an Agency Participation Agreement which specifies the mutual responsibilities of the agency and Accreditation Council. The Application and Agency Participation Agreement form is available on-line in the Publications and Forms section.

Is there help available for agencies working on the Program?

The Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) provides support to agencies that are participating in the Accreditation Program. The following resources are available at no cost.

Resources Materials

Participating agencies receive copies of the program Standards and Compliance Verification Manual and the Program Implementation Guide. The Standards and Compliance Verification Manual contains all of the program standards and offers guidelines that agencies may use when deciding how to demonstrate that they have met all requirements. The Implementation Guide provides an overview of the accreditation process and outlines requirements step-by-step. The Manuals and forms are available on-line in the Publications and Forms section.

Technical Assistance

Experienced program staff provides assistance upon request and agencies are encouraged to call whenever there are questions. Staff can help interpret and apply applicable standards and can offer valuable insight on how other agencies approached various situations. In addition, staff is available to review draft procedures to determine compliance and discuss ways in which a department's unique circumstances might affect the way in which a given standard should be implemented.

Networking

Agency personnel often wish to speak directly with officials who have completed the accreditation process. OPS will provide a Roster of Accredited Agencies and Contact Persons to facilitate such linkages. Program Managers and CEO's are encouraged to network with other agencies that have completed the process. Additionally, many of these agencies will provide copies of their policy and procedures manuals as a reference for agency personnel in the drafting their own policies.

The availability of the aforementioned resources and assistance has made the attainment of accreditation easier. Agency personnel have the ability to reach out to experienced program staff and over one hundred agencies that have achieved accreditation status. The willingness and enthusiasm of these professionals to provide assistance and guidance are due to a shared vision of professionalizing law enforcement in New York State.

Training

The Office of Public Safety also provides training for agency program managers. This training focuses on the day-today tasks leading to accreditation and incorporates the most useful insights acquired since the program became operational.

How long does it take to get accredited?

This is dependent upon the agency and is determined by three main factors:

  • How much time and effort an agency is willing to dedicate to getting the job done;
  • How many policies and procedures have to be written to meet the standards; and
  • If the agency has policies already in place, how many need revisions to meet the standards.

For those agencies who have allotted the appropriate time and put forth a reasonable effort, it has taken anywhere from three to eighteen months to get accredited.

Does an agency have to meet all 133 standards to become accredited?

Participating agencies are normally expected to implement all program standards. However, some standards do not apply to all agencies, and waivers may be obtained in exceptional circumstances. The Council also recognizes that state and local laws, codes, rules and regulations and current bargaining agreements are binding in nature. As such, they take precedence over program standards and definitions. more »

Who accredits an agency and how long is the accreditation good for?

The NYS Law Enforcement Accreditation Council has exclusive authority to grant accreditation status. Accreditation is granted for a 5 year period. To continue in the Program, chief executive officers must advise OPS of their wish to be reaccredited by submitting a new application near the end of their five-year period of accreditation. The submission of this application will start the agency on the road to reaccreditation.

How is it determined that an agency meets accreditation standards?

Agency officials notify the Office of Public Safety when they believe that all program requirements have been successfully met. OPS then selects a team of experienced law enforcement practitioners who conduct a three day on-site assessment of the agency to verify that it qualifies for accreditation status. Verification includes the review of policies and procedures and supporting documentation related to the Accreditation Standards.

The assessment team leader prepares a detailed report of the team's findings and forwards it to the Office of Public Safety. A copy of this report is then sent to the NYS Law Enforcement Accreditation Council for review and action at its next scheduled meeting. more »

Who are the assessors and how are the assessors selected to conduct an assessment?

The assessors are either active or retired law enforcement officers who have at least five years of experience as supervisors of police officers, or are police officers with at least five years of experience and have served as the Program Manager of an accredited agency. They are required to complete a training course for new assessors before their first assignment.

The Office of Public Safety selects three individuals who will serve on each assessment team. None of the team members will live or work in the same geographic area as the agency being assessed. Every effort is made to ensure that the team has an appropriate professional balance.