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MPD earns its stripes in standards

by: PHOTO BY: RAYMOND RENDLEMAN - Milwaukie Police Chief Bob Jordan and Lt. David Rash celebrate after last month's announcement that the department officially received state accreditation.After a two-year effort, the Milwaukie Police Department officially received state accreditation last month, a move that could save the city thousands of dollars in legal fees.

Police Chief Bob Jordan attended the Oregon Association Chiefs of Police meeting in Bend, where the announcement was made that the force had achieved statewide standards. OACP partners with the Salem-based risk-management company City County Insurance Services to determine what agencies get accredited.

“You’ve got the collective wisdom of hundreds of police departments that hold you up to that mirror, and in some areas you have to rethink,” Jordan said.

Accreditation cost the department about $1,500, but its legal bills have ranged from $4,000 in the 2011 fiscal year to $20,000 in 2012. Accredited agencies look better in court. Jordan credited Lt. David Rash with carrying out the nitty-gritty details of the accreditation process. They found that the holding cells in the Milwaukie Public Safety Building, for example, should never hold both juveniles and adults. Even though those cells rarely are occupied, Jordan said, it was good for MPD to know about the increased danger.

Rash learned about “dozens of other standards that a modern police department should adhere to.” Auditors checked off MPD on 105 standards, including five that don’t apply, such as Milwaukie’s policies for airports or SWAT teams. They looked at everything from MPD’s mission statement to its use-of-force policies to its use of high-visibility vests.

New MPD policies include:

1. Biohazard labels in the evidence room

2. Officers must qualify their personal or “secondary” weapon by demonstrating their proficiency firing it four times a year

3. MPD police chief’s authority comes through contractual agreements, but the City Council is expected to adopt that authority as part of the city’s charter next month.

“Accreditation cleans up a lot of things, gives us a better standing in the community, and there are now standards set by an outside agency,” Rash said. “Because we’re keeping an eye on things, we should in daily operations become more efficient, and officers now have a better understanding of policies and procedures.”

The Oregon Accreditation Alliance Board also voted to accept the Sandy Police Department in January. In Clackamas County, the Canby, Molalla, Lake Oswego and Oregon City police departments also have received accreditation.




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