Is Police Dept.’s Accreditation Just A Glorified Sales Pitch?


Our original plan for today’s post was to do something we wish we had more opportunities to do: praise – that’s right, actually praise – one of our local governmental departments for going above and beyond the call of duty in providing the taxpayers with real bang for our bucks.

We intended to give a big PublicWatchdog bark-out to the Park Ridge Police Department, which recently achieved a 100% score on the 71-point Tier One compliance evaluation by the Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation Council (“ILEAC”) rating team.  Actually, the focus of that planned bark-out was going to be the way the accreditation recommendation was achieved: according to the ILEAC rating report, the recommendation was achieved by “extraordinary patience and dedication,” the use of “ingenuity and creativity,” and “careful procedures and diligence” of the PRPD administration and staff – all of which was needed to overcome the 11,000 square foot police station that the ILEAC report pointedly criticized as containing “various physical inadequacies.”   

In other words, at first glance it appeared that our Police Department is doing what most successful businesses and organizations have been doing for years, and even more so since the recession hit a few years ago: getting more done with less resources, a/k/a greater efficiency.  And that’s exactly what the taxpayers deserve from the PRPD…and every other City department, and every other local governmental body.  

But before we got too far along in praising that accomplishment, we took a little time to Google ILEAC and what this 100% Tier One rating actually means.

We discovered that the ILEAC is a sub-group of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police (“ILACP”), which appears from its website to be one of those pseudo-“independent” self-promoting fluff-and-stroke organizations that exist in many industries, but seem particularly prevalent in the public sector – seemingly to persuade gullible taxpayers that they are getting more and better government services for their money than might otherwise be perceived if those taxpayers were left to their own observations and common sense.

A Tier One accreditation, which costs $500, purports to be based on 71 standards for administration, operations, personnel and training.  A Tier Two accreditation costs $1,000 and purports to be based on 180 standards.  Both types of accreditation evaluations involve a two-day, on-site process of file review, interviews and ride-alongs by an assessment team, which submits an Assessment Report to the accreditation committee chairman for distribution to, and consideration by, the entire ILEAC.  If accreditation is granted, it is valid for four years.

And, of course, accreditation wouldn’t be worth even $500 if there wasn’t an awards ceremony, customarily featuring the presentation of the accreditation certificate at…wait for it…a City Council meeting.

Our cursory investigation into the accreditation process also revealed that the ILEAC members are a cast of characters who, if this were the movie “Casablanca,” would be rounded up by Inspector Renault for being “the usual suspects”: two incumbent Illinois police chiefs appointed by ILACP; a member of the Campus Law Enforcement Executive Committee appointed by ILACP; the Director of the Center for Public Safety and Justice, or designate; the Director of the Institute for Public Safety Partnerships, or designate; the Director of the Illinois Municipal League, or designate; the Director of the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, or designate; the Director of the Intergovernmental Risk Management Association; and the Director of the Illinois County and City Managers Association.

In other words, a group of uber-bureaucrats.  Or their “designates.” 

And guess who just happens to be on the accrediting Council?  None other than Park Ridge’s own, Police Chief Frank Kaminsky.

That very well could explain the arguably gratuitous “shot” at the condition of our cop shop, which lends aid and comfort to Chief K’s advocacy for his latest pet project: a $1.3 million renovation and expansion of the cop shop.  Ironically enough, the $360,000 contract for Phase I of that three-phase project is set on tonight’s City Council Finance & Budget COW agenda for preliminary approval. 

Chief K’s prominent role with ILEAC might also explain some, if not all, of the gushy accolades about the PRPD’s Herculean efforts to overcome its alleged Black Hole of Calcutta-like working conditions.  What better way to set the table for advocating even higher pay and benefits in the future than for ILEAC to “officially” extol the “extraordinary patience and dedication,” “ingenuity and creativity,” and “careful procedures and diligence” of the PRPD personnel?    

So it pains us to conclude that this ILEAC Tier One rating – all $500 worth of it – appears to be little more than a kind of sales pitch.  But instead of Ron “Wait, there’s more!” Popeil pitching his Showtime Rotisserie, we have Chief K pitching a cop shop project and higher pay for PRPD personnel by means of a quasi-official accreditation. 

Accreditation certificate included.    

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