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Law Enforcement Accreditation

The City of Ontario, Division of Police is proud to announce that we are seeking Law Enforcement Accreditation. The process can take years, our initial goal was to become accredited in 2016, which we proudly accomplished.  In 2020, our accreditation status was continued after our 4 year re-examination was successfully completed.  Below is a description of the accreditation program.

The Law Enforcement Accreditation Program was the first credentialing program established by CALEA after its founding. It was originally developed to address what was seen as a need to enhance law enforcement as a profession and to improve law enforcement service delivery. That mission continues today through a tiered law enforcement accreditation program. Agencies may participate in either CALEA Law Enforcement Accreditation (Tier 1) or CALEA Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation (Tier 2), without regard to agency size. 

Additionally, these programs are open to all types of law enforcement agencies, on an international basis. And, these programs provide specific standards to support law enforcement agencies functioning in the college/university environment. They provide a process to systematically conduct an internal review and assessment of the agencies’ policies and procedures, and make adjustments wherever necessary to meet a body of internationally accepted standards.

Since the first CALEA Accreditation Award was granted in 1984, the program has become the primary method for an agency to voluntarily demonstrate their commitment to excellence in law enforcement. The standards upon which the Law Enforcement Accreditation Program is based reflect the current thinking and experience of law enforcement practitioners and researchers. Major law enforcement associations, leading educational and training institutions, governmental agencies, as well as law enforcement executives internationally, acknowledge CALEA’s Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies© and its Accreditation Programs as benchmarks for professional law enforcement agencies.

· CALEA Accreditation requires an agency to develop a comprehensive, well thought out, uniform set of written directives. This is one of the most successful methods for reaching administrative and operational goals, while also providing direction to personnel.

· CALEA Accreditation standards provide the necessary reports and analyses a CEO needs to make fact-based, informed management decisions.

· CALEA Accreditation requires a preparedness program be put in place—so an agency is ready to address natural or man-made unusual occurrences.

· CALEA Accreditation is a means for developing or improving upon an agency’s relationship with the community.

· CALEA Accreditation strengthens an agency’s accountability, both within the agency and the community, through a continuum of standards that clearly define authority, performance, and responsibilities.

· Being CALEA Accredited can limit an agency’s liability and risk exposure because it demonstrates that internationally recognized standards for law enforcement have been met, as verified by a team of independent outside CALEA-trained assessors.

· CALEA Accreditation facilitates an agency’s pursuit of professional excellence.

Law Enforcement Program: The Standards

The Law Enforcement Accreditation Program is comprised of selected standards taken from the full complement of standards in the Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation Program.

These standards are subject to ongoing review and revision. When modifications are recommended, they are presented to the Commission's Standards Review and Interpretation Committee (SRIC) for consideration. If appropriate, SRIC approves draft language and then presents the draft to the Commission for their approval to publicize the proposed change for review and comment from the public safety community. Comments are referred back to the SRIC for consideration. The SRIC then makes a recommendation to the Commission for final approval.

The standards address six major law enforcement areas:

1. Role, responsibilities, and relationships with other agencies;

2. Organization, management, and administration;

3. Personnel administration;

4. Law enforcement operations, operational support, and traffic law enforcement;

5. Detainee and court-related services; and

6. Auxiliary and technical services.

The standards help law enforcement agencies:

•strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities;

•formalize essential management procedures;

•establish fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices;

•improve service-delivery;

•solidify interagency cooperation and coordination; and

•boost citizen and staff confidence in the agency.


Agencies that seek accreditation are required to comply only with those standards that are specifically applicable to them. Applicability is based on two factors: an agency’s size and the functions it performs. Applicable standards are categorized as mandatory or other-than-mandatory. Agencies must comply with all applicable mandatory standards and at least 80% of applicable other-than-mandatory standards. If an agency cannot comply with a standard because of legislation, labor agreements, court orders, or case law, waivers can be sought from the Commission.

“What” Not “How”

Seeking to establish the best professional practices, the standards prescribe “what” agencies should be doing, but not “how” they should be doing it. That decision is left up to the individual agency and its Chief Executive Officer.

Law Enforcement Program: The Benefits

CALEA standards give the Chief Executive Officer a proven management system of written directives, sound training, clearly defined lines of authority, and routine reports that support decision-making and resource allocation.

•Reduced risk and liability exposure

Many agencies report a reduction in its liability insurance costs and/or reimbursement of accreditation fees.

•Stronger defense against civil lawsuits

Accredited agencies are better able to defend themselves against civil lawsuits. Also, many agencies report a decline in legal actions against them, once they become accredited.

•Staunch support from government officials

Accreditation provides objective evidence of an agency's commitment to excellence in leadership, resource management, and service-delivery. Thus, government officials are more confident in the agency's ability to operate efficiently and meet community needs.

•Increased community advocacy

Accreditation embodies the precepts of community-oriented policing. It creates a forum in which law enforcement agencies and citizens work together to prevent and control challenges confronting law enforcement and provides clear direction about community expectations.

Law Enforcement Program: Process

The CALEA Accreditation Process is a proven modern management model. Once implemented, it presents an agency's Chief Executive Officer (CEO), on a continuing basis, with a blueprint that promotes the efficient use of resources and improves service delivery—regardless of the size, geographic location, or functional responsibilities of the agency.

There are five phases in the accreditation process:

  1. Enrollment,
  2. Self-assessment,
  3. On-site Assessment,
  4. Commission Review and Decision, and
  5. Maintaining Compliance and Reaccreditation.

Enrollment - Getting Started

The primary resource to explore accreditation and gather information is the CALEA website. It provides the opportunity to obtain a vast amount of information about CALEA's history, organization, and credentialing programs; search the client database for other agencies enrolled; or view/print fee schedules and other required enrollment documents. The website also contains an archive of CALEA periodicals, newsletters and a compilation of Accreditation Works! articles, which describe the impact of accreditation from CALEA clients' perspective, plus links to other articles, research studies, and resources.

Those interested in CALEA Accreditation may purchase the CALEA publications in electronic format.  These publications are bundled for seamless access to each of the standards manuals for all programs, and also include the CALEA Process and Programs Guide.  Collectively, these documents provide the foundation for agencies participating in any of the CALEA Accreditation Programs.

For agencies interested in finding out more about the Law Enforcement Accreditation Program, here are some suggestions:

  • Review the standards found in the publication, Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies, and information in the instructional manual, the CALEA Process and Programs Guide; carefully review and compare the CALEA Standards to your existing written directives.
  • Attend a CALEA Conference. There you will receive the training needed to begin the process and to successfully complete your accreditation goals; network with other public safety personnel and gain insight into the program; and consult with other CALEA accredited agencies. The training at these tri-annual conferences includes workshops, presentations and information on all aspects of law enforcement.?
  • Attend and/or join the local Accreditation Coalition, if available. This is another resource for information and accreditation process training.
  • Contact CALEA with any questions.

When the agency is ready to enroll in the Law Enforcement Accreditation Program, it completes the online Enrollment Package, downloads the following three documents, and submits them to CALEA:

  1. Enrollment Form.
  2. Accreditation Agreement.
  3. Publications Subscription and Access Agreement.


The agency begins the phase called self-assessment with the return of the signed Agreement and the completed APQ.  The APQ is an informal document permitting answers to be provided as conveniently as possible and the best estimate may be appropriate in some areas. The completed APQ contains agency-specific and general community information that permits the assigned CALEA Regional Program Manager to facilitate interaction with the agency’s accreditation manager and provide program related assistance.

Agencies in the Law Enforcement Accreditation or Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation Program have 36 months from the date a CALEA representative signs the Accreditation Agreement to complete self-assessment and schedule an on-site assessment. The Agreements provide for extensions and related fees in the event an agency requires additional time beyond the Agreement limit.

The agency proceeds with self-assessment by complying with applicable standards, developing proofs of compliance, and preparing for the on-site assessment.  During this time, the CALEA Regional Program Manager is available to provide guidance on the applicability of standards and attaining compliance.

Near the end of the self-assessment phase, the agency, in conjunction with the CALEA Assessment Manager, develops plans for accomplishing on-site assessment activities.

On-Site Assessment

Once the agency has notified CALEA of its completion of the self-assessment phase and its desire to schedule an on-site assessment, the CALEA Assessment Manager schedules a date that is mutually agreeable and in compliance with the Agreement between the agency and CALEA. The agency is invoiced for the estimated cost of the on-site assessment at this time. Trained assessors with professionally relevant experience conduct the assessment and report their findings to the Commission for review and decision.

Commission Review and Decision

The Commission’s Agency Review Committees conduct hearings, which are open for public attendance, regarding the agency’s compliance to applicable standards.  Designated agency representatives are invited to participate in this review.  If an agency is unable to participate, the CALEA Regional Program Manager presents the agency’s on-site report and other necessary information to the Review Committee.

At the CALEA Conference, the agency receives a letter conferring accredited status for three years.  Later, one framed Certificate of Accreditation for display is sent at no cost to the agency.  The agency also receives certificates of appreciation for the CEO and accreditation manager.  Additional certificates can be ordered for a fee from CALEA.

Maintaining Compliance and Reaccreditation

The agency must maintain compliance with applicable standards, keep its proofs of compliance up-to-date, and live by the letter and spirit of those standards.  To retain its accreditation status, the agency is required to annually submit to CALEA, the appropriate accreditation continuation fees and a Agency Status Report. The status report, due by its anniversary date each year, includes a summary of the agency’s accreditation maintenance experience for the preceding year and a declaration of continued compliance with applicable standards. 

Once an agency has achieved two previous consecutive accreditation awards, it may apply for and be awarded CALEA Accreditation with Excellence by the Commission as an indication of superlative performance.

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