After a two-year process of assembling material, rewriting guidelines and submitting them to an exhaustive review from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA), the Fallon Police Department can say it’s among the top 1 percent of law enforcement agencies in the U.S.
Based on independent assessors’ review of Fallon’s packet and interviews with department employees and community members, CALEA awarded the FPD an advanced certification for meeting 480 requirements.
Police Chief Kevin Gehman said CALEA evaluates departments on what constitutes today’s best practices for law enforcement.
“We met each requirement or best practice,” Gehman said. “We spent over two years getting ready by rewriting policies and integrating their guidelines into the local policies.”
Gehman said FPD started the policy project from the beginning. Rather than piecemeal the guidelines and rewrite parts of each policy, Gehman said the department decided to start from the beginning.
Only two other Nevada police departments besides Fallon — Henderson and Las Vegas — have received accreditation, which is based on four divisions, all based on the number of people who serve in a police department. The FPD, for example, has 30 employees serving in dispatch, patrol/detectives, administration and animal control.
In Fallon’s division, Gehman said 130 out of 130,000 departments have received accreditation.
Gehman represented both the city of Fallon and the police department by receiving the award in November.
“Fallon P.D. achieved a successful onsite assessment and was awarded Advanced Law Enforcement Accreditation status at our recent conference in Winston-Salem (N.C.),” said Mark Mosier, program manager for the Pacific and Pacific Northwest regions for CALEA. “I am very proud of Chief Gehman for the vision that he had for his agency.”
Gehman said receiving accreditation is not required, but it gives him and his officers guidance to run the department and to protect FPD from liability because personnel are using the best practices available.
“This shows the community we have one of the best departments in the country and great people who serve,” Gehman added.
Gehman, who was involved in a similar accreditation process when he lived in New York state 10 years ago, said he saw the benefit of undergoing the process, especially the second time around.
“We made ourselves better going through the standards and were able to meet them at the advanced level,” he said.
Mayor Ken Tedford Jr. said accreditation is good for the department and shows a great deal of professionalism for the men and women who serve Fallon’s residents.
“The process of going through that (accreditation) puts the entire department under the microscope and what a high level of performance looks like.”
Tedford said everyone in the FPD stepped up during the evaluation process and are rewarded by being among the best in the U.S.
“It’s a good thing for this community,” the mayor said of the recognition.
Doni Kowalski, Police Services assistant, said everyone in the FPD has a sense of pride because of the accreditation process and the final outcome.
For Kowalski and the other FPD employees, they gathered information from other jurisdictions that had been accredited.
“The chief (Gehman) was very instrumental in this (procedures) written,” she said. “He helped take out the gray areas. We feel we’re safer now because everyone knows what to do now.”
Kowalski said she is surprised other departments are not going through accreditation because the outcome provides specific procedures.