The Bethlehem Police Department recently gained the distinction of being recertified by the Division of Criminal Justice Services' Accreditation Program, an occasion that also marked 20 years of accreditation for the organization.
The certification means the department is up to date and compliant with the program's 132 standards, which include items like providing bulletproof vests to officers, accounting practices, training schedules and also operational matters like the classification and identification of hate crimes, a new standard.
The accreditation process involves three assessors from the DCJS spending several days in the department reviewing files and other information. It's an in-depth look that gives the assessors full access to the organization, said Bethlehem Police Chief Louis Corsi, and it's a process the department welcomes because constructive suggestions can come out of it.
It's a great opportunity to make our organization better, he said.
Due to the agency's history with the program and the fact an officer keeps accreditation files up to date all year, the department was well within compliance, he continued. There were relatively few suggestions made by the auditors.
"The long you're in this program, the more compliant you become," Corsi said.
The Bethlehem Police Department currently has more than 450 general orders that cover officer conduct and procedure in various situations.
The state's Accreditation program has been in existence through the DCJS since 1988. The Bethlehem Police Department was the third organization in the state to become accredited.
Today, more than 100 agencies hold that distinction. In Bethlehem, the department has to maintain meticulous records of compliance and undergo an extensive auditing process every five years, making this recent rectification the department's fourth review since admission to the program.
The accreditation program is overseen by a 17-member accreditation council, which dictates standards and reviews applications. Corsi is one member of that panel.