WESTFIELD, NJ — Standards concerning prisoner handling, use of force and fiscal controls are among those the town’s police department is taking a hard look at — including by soliciting public feedback on — as it seeks accreditation from the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police.

What is it? To achieve the designation from the state association, Westfield police must show its personnel properly carry out 566 tasks that are governed by 112 standards, said Capt. Frank Padovano, the department’s accreditation manager.

“This is a process we started last year,” Padovano said. “It’s been grueling, and our department is in conformance with all the standards, which I’m very proud of. There’s not a beat missed.”

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But the NJSACOP doesn’t just take the department’s word that it meets those standards.

Westfield police announced that the association’s inspectors are coming virtually on Monday to ensure Westfield follows the protocol. And as part of that voluntary process, the department seeks the public’s feedback on its ability to meet the requirements.

“Public participation is a critical element of the assessment process,” said Police Chief Christopher Battiloro in a statement. “We sincerely welcome and strongly encourage the public’s participation.”

Employees and members of the public are invited to address and provide comments to the NJSACOP assessment team on the Westfield Police Department’s ability to comply with the standards, the department announced. Those standards include administrative, personnel, operations, investigative and prisoner handling functions, police said. The 150 pages of standards are more specifically detailed in a PDF linked at the bottom of this story.

How do I comment? Anyone wishing to comment may call 908-543-4063 on Monday, March 1, between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Telephone comments will be limited to 5 minutes each, and they must address the Westfield Police Department’s ability to comply with the NJSACOP’s law enforcement accreditation standards, police said. Comments will also be accepted by email at accreditation@wpdnj.org.

People may also email the NJSACOP’s Law Enforcement Accreditation Program Director Harry Delgado at hdelgado@njsacop.org or write to the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, at 751 Route 73 North, Suite 12, Marlton, NJ 08053.

A hard copy of the NJSACOP’s law enforcement accreditation standards is also available for inspection at the Westfield Police Department, 425 East Broad Street, Westfield.

Law enforcement accreditation is valid for a three-year period, during which time the Westfield Police Department must submit annual reports attesting to its continued compliance with those standards under which it was initially accredited, police said.

Is this unique? While this is the first time that the Westfield Police Department is seeking accreditation, it is not a first in New Jersey. About 270 law enforcement agencies in New Jersey are either accredited, re-accredited or in the initial process of self assessment for accreditation, said Harry Delgado, the accreditation program director for the NJSACOP.

Last year, police departments in nearby Scotch Plains and New Providence were among those to earn re-accreditation. Plainfield police are due for a re-accreditation this October.

At a time of national reckoning over law enforcement practices, agencies to seek the public's feedback for accreditation or re-accreditation in 2020 included the Union County Police, Kenilworth Police, Maplewood Police and Hackensack Police departments.

Accredited status may make agencies eligible for insurance discounts, according to the NJSACOP.

In Westfield, obtaining accreditation is at the top of the Westfield police chief's to-do list.

“Law enforcement accreditation has been a top priority for the Westfield Police Department,” said Battiloro, who was made chief in 2018. “Achieving it will promote and uphold our officers and employees to the highest ethical and professional standards in law enforcement.”

Click herepdf to view the standards.

Email Matt Kadosh at mkadosh@tapinto.net | Twitter: @MattKadosh

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