RHODE ISLAND — The Rhode Island Police Accreditation Commission (RIPAC) is a department-initiated process by which police departments in Rhode Island voluntarily strive to meet and maintain a series of professional standards.
Each month, RIPAC will highlight a different accredited department through its Agency Spotlight series. For August, the highlighted department is the Smithfield Police Department.
What was the date of your initial accreditation?
March 2001 through the national Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA); October 2013 through RIPAC. The Smithfield Police Department was the second law enforcement agency, following the Rhode Island State Police, to attain RIPAC accreditation.
What is the total number of agency employees/staff?
Briefly describe the benefits of accreditation for your agency.
As a law enforcement agency, you have two options: 1) You can fly by the seat of your pants and hope for the best, or; 2) You can follow a road map which consists of industry standards. By following the road map, you are doing what is best for your employees, while proving your accountability to the community you serve.
What is something about your agency’s accreditation process that stands out?
What stands out is the requirement that we work harder than most to attain accredited status through RIPAC. In order for the Smithfield Police Department to be accredited by RIPAC, we must satisfy all applicable CALEA standards, as well as RIPAC state-specific standards. This results in extra focus, extra time, and extra effort. This is challenging, but we’re always up for a challenge. That’s why we became police officers in the first place.
Have there been any programs you’ve put in place since your accreditation that you would like to promote?
Our community policing programs remain one of our greatest strengths. Such examples include our annual trick-or-treat parade, our fifth grade ice skating party, our buckle-up shuffle, our Christmas gift shop-with-a-cop, our police explorer program, our citizens police academies and our female self-defense programs. We are constantly engaging with the Smithfield community. Community engagement is a benefit to all!
What are some of the lessons your agency (or individual officers) have learned as a result of accreditation?
Our officers have learned that working for an accredited agency sets you apart from other agencies. Accredited agencies have more structure and accountability, and these agencies provide employees with more guidance (through policies and protocols) and increased expectations. “I didn’t know I was supposed to do it that way” are words not heard or accepted at the Smithfield Police Department. Employees DO know what they’re supposed to do, because there’s a written directive that says so, and ramifications (large and small) for failing to act accordingly.
Are there any details about your community (such as programs and partnerships at the municipal level) that stand out that you would like to include?
Throughout the COVID-19 crisis and among nation-wide calls to “defund the police,” the Smithfield Police Department has received overwhelming support from our community. But even before these events, the Smithfield community has been a supportive partner. The only way to explain this is: They take care of us, because we take care of them … and following the accreditation road map helps us to do all the right things necessary for us to take care of them.
Comment from community stakeholder:
“The Town of Smithfield is fortunate to have a professional agency such as the Smithfield Police Department,” Town Manager Randy R. Rossi said. “By achieving both the Rhode Island Police and CALEA accreditation, the department is always focused on providing the best services for our residents.”