BRIDGEWATER, NJ - A team of assessors from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police will arrive in Bridgewater May 20 to examine all aspects of the Bridgewater Township Police Department's policies and procedures, management, operations and support services, according to Police Chief Al Nicaretta.

"Verification by the team that the Bridgewater Police Department meets the commission's 'best practice' standard is part of a voluntary process to achieve accreditation, a highly prized recognition of law enforcement professional excellence," Nicaretta said in a release.

As part of the final on-site assessment, employees and members of the public are asked to make comments by telephone or email to the assessment team. Members of the public can call 908-429-8455 May 20 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., while email comments can be sent to the accreditation manager Lt. Michael Packwood at mpackwood@bridgewaterpd.com.

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According to the release, telephone comments are limited to five minutes, and must address the agency's abilities to comply with the NJSACOP standards, a copy of which are available at the Bridgewater Township Police Department Records Bureau, on Commons Way. Those interested can contact the accreditation office at 908-722-4111, ext. 4150.

Written comments can be emailed to the accreditation program manager at hdelgado@njsacop.org, or by writting the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission at 751 Route 73 North, Suite 12, Marlton, NJ 08053.

The department must comply with NJSACOP LEAP standards to achieve accredited status.

"Accreditation results in great accountability within the agency, reduced risk and liabilitty exposure, stronger defense against civil lawsuits, increased community advocacy and more confidence in the agency's ability to operate efficiently and respond to community needs," Nicaretta said in the release.

The assessment team for accreditation is composed of law enforcement practitioners from similar New Jersey law enforcement agencies. Assessors review written materials, interview agency members and visit offices.

Accreditation is valid for three years, and agencies must submit annual reports attesting to their continued compliance during that time.