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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8 comments so far

Careful, PWD: you may find your automobile attracting paper ornamentation.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Although we have our issues with the “political” side of the PRPD, we have a generally high opinion of the professionalism of its individual officers. Which leads us to believe that retribution in the form of “paper ornamentation” is not a significant risk; and we hope that belief is well-founded.

What is measured in the accreditation application? Response time? Number of emergencies handled? Number of DUI’s issued? That may provide more guidance as to whether the accrediation process is real or not.

EDITOR’S NOTE: We have only seen Pages 7-10 of the report, and cannot tell from them exactly what comprised the criteria on which the ratings were based. But for $500, we find it hard to believe that it was all that painstaking a study; or what kind of rating the PRPD would have received if it sprang for the $1,000 Tier Two study.

I just don’t understand these “alleged Black Hole of Calcutta-like working conditions.” Is the police station really that bad? Park Ridge is not exactly Crime Central. And I’d think in Chicago, for example, which truly is Crime Central, that police stations aren’t much better or more sophisticated.

I can’t help shake the feeling that Niles envy is at the root of all this. Why Niles needs such a flashy police station aside, would we really want one like that here? I personally like our small, low-key PD. It seems to reflect how relatively calm things are here compared to our big city neighbors.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Well, it supposedly is lousy with health-threatening mold, but that health threat isn’t even going to be addressed under the new “plan” until Phase III in two more years. And all those critical safety threats posed by no sally port have existed, without significant incident, since the cop shop was put in the basement of Butler Place in 1962. So go figure.

Anon 10:22

When a local PD either wants a new builing for its facility or an expansion, that means the current one is not adequate.

Now while most here probably agree that ot does need fixing, many here, (myself included) question the need for a bigger one, so I’m not saying that I support a new one but we can’t say let’s not build a new station because it doesn’t reflect on the town of PR itself.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For years we have been hearing the “What if?” horror stories about how prisoners will escape, or take hostages, or get injured and sue the City; how evidence will be jeopardized because of improper storage; etc., etc. But since 1962 – 50 years – none of that has happened.

You talk about “Niles Envy” and that may have been the case with elected officials at times (Frimark), but I simply do not buy that with people who actually work for the police department.

I find it very hard to believe that an officer who has to understand the people want to fight them for every penny in their contract would wnat to “overspend” on an oppulent and unnecessary police department.

EDITOR’S NOTE: 4 years ago Frimark and his alderpuppets did indeed want to “overspend” on a new police station, even if it wasn’t necessarily going to be an “opulent” one. And we don’t recall any police personnel back then objecting to it. Just like the average worker normally doesn’t object to his employer moving to newer, more spacious offices UNLESS that same employer expressly states that the cost of the new digs is coming out of the employees’ checks, police personnel think they can have both: a new (or at least expanded and renovated) cop shop AND more money in their envelopes.

For example, is a sally port a good thing? Sure. But apparently for the past 50 years there has been no incident with arrestee/prisoner processing that went awry because there is no sally port. So whether it’s a necessity is still a very open question to us. And maybe also to the taxpayers, which is why they voted against a new cop shop (with sally port) 4 years ago.

The analogy to private sector offices is about right. Everybody likes shiny and new v. old and worn, but most people that I know whouldn’t go for shiny and new if they could see that it was coming directly out of their paychecks.

I remember you referring to former ald. Allegretti as “Chicken Little” because during the new police station debate he was always talking about how arrestees were going to get hurt and sue the city, but I don’t think it ever happened even once.

EDITOR’S NOTE: That’s been our experience.

Frimark got the police all worked up to the point that they really believed he was going to get them a brand-new police station. He also sent an officer to stop someone from collecting petition signatures against the new police station outside of Oberweis. Anyone remember all that?

We simply can’t afford a new police station. It’s just plain math. We can’t afford it. This isn’t even close to one of those cases where some say, “Well, we can’t afford NOT to do it.”

If the city council can find a way to afford, by cutting elsewhere in the budget, some improvements to the existing facility, we should all listen.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Settle down, FWT, nobody’s suggesting a new police station. But the real question is whether spending $1.2-1.3 million over three years for “improvements” to the current cop shop a sound use of that money – especially when the allegedly greatest danger presented by the current condition of the cop shop (the mold) is being put off until Phase II or Phase III?

The Council voted 6-1 last night to approve Phase I of the police station renovation. Looks like they didn’t buy PW’s arguments, even though the aldermen barely asked any questions. Mayor Schmidt made some very good points about whether this is the best use of $290,000 and all the other alternative space at City Hall and the public works center. But Chief Kaminkski just kept talking in circles about how nothing else will do and nobody else even challenged him. Must have been the badge. 🙂

EDITOR’S NOTE: Talking in circles has proven to make at least a couple of the current aldermen dizzy enough to vote for almost anything – even spending $300,000+ for some half-baked solutions to manufactured “problems” that create no realistic risk of any significant consequences. Just be thankful we don’t have much real crime in Park Ridge, otherwise they’d be spending $30-40 million on something that would make Niles envious.

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