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Re-accreditation by state officials expected for the Shelter Island Police Department

It’s not quite official, but it’s a lock that the Shelter Island Police Department  will have their New York state accreditation renewed.

On April 11, Chief Jim Read, Detective Sergeant Jack Thilberg and Sergeant Anthony Rando met with three representatives of the New York State Law Enforcement Agency Accreditation Program (NYSLEAAP). They were on hand at police headquarters to talk about the process that must be renewed every five years.

Shelter Island first became accredited in 2009, and gained re-accreditation status in 2014 and 2019, and will soon be able to add 2024.

A three-member team of the Accreditation Program conducted a process of examining every aspect of the department’s operations. Gary Lee led the team, and working with James Condo and Glenn Quinn, interviewed every member of the department’s units — the chief, detective sergeant, sergeant, patrol officers, the marine and animal control staff, the information technology team, court officers and the crossing guard.

The team examined all processes and records to ensure the department is adhering to best practices.

Given today’s technology, every aspect of department records is computerized, Chief Read noted.

In addition to the extensive interviews, the state team of assessors examined everything in everyday procedures —  how the department functions in the areas of administration, training methods and operations.

“No matter what we threw at them they had the answers,” Mr. Quinn said about the process of re-assessment.

Although there’s no formal announcement yet — that will come in about two weeks — it was evident in the meeting attended by Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams, that the department will be re-accredited for another five years.

On June 6, representatives of the Island department will go to Albany for the official recognition of their performance.

There they will receive the John Kimball O’Neill Certificate of Achievement. Mr. O’Neill was instrumental in implementing the accreditation program. New York was the first state in the country to sponsor a law enforcement accreditation program.

Operational since 1989, the program has evolved to address legal, policing and social issues, with program standards revised, added or removed to remain responsive to the needs of New York’s law enforcement community.

Accreditation isn’t required, and many departments throughout the state, especially small departments, aren’t accredited. But Chief Read is determined his department will be “as professional as possible” and that means being judged by the same standards as those large departments that are accredited.

It’s no easy task to gain accreditation or to retain it. No matter how well the department appears to be functioning, there are always practices along the way that can be improved, Chief Read said.

As for the process, department leaders wishing to apply for accreditation are expected to become fully aware of program standards and spend at least 90 days preparing staff to implement necessary standards and practices prior to scheduling a site visit by an assessment team.

An assessment team leader will identify 10 standards and require department staff to submit copies of program files for review. If the review finds the files meet standards, an onsite assessment team of individuals will be selected to arrange a site visit.

But if four or more of the requested program files are deemed inadequate, it’s possible the applicant will be advised to defer its efforts at accreditation and prepare before reapplying.

As for the onsite evaluation team, they are selected because of specific knowledge of issues relating to the department to be assessed.

Once all assessments are completed, it will take a minimum of 45 days to make a final decision on whether accreditation will be granted. That’s why it will be June 6 before the official award of re-accreditation will be forthcoming.