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Oxford police go through reaccreditation process

Residents should start seeing flyers and invites from the Oxford Police Department in their mailbox.

The department is going through a reaccreditation process and part of it involves Oxonians getting a chance to weigh in on phone or in person on how they believe OPD is doing.

As a part of certification with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement (CALEA), which OPD first received March 23, 2013, the police force is required to be recertified every three years, and evaluators will be in town June 1 to assess OPD and talk to residents.

OPD Maj. Sheridan Maiden, who handles support services, works with a team of three officers routinely on ensuring the police force meets and maintains state and 486 CALEA standards.

Maiden said a mock on-site assessment was a couple weeks ago where assessors came through and examined everything, and that process is getting more difficult each year.

“It gets a little harder each time you get reaccredited,” he said. “With your first one, they chalk that one up as to you need to know the process. After that, you should know and you’ve got to be better. The pressure’s on. The longer you stay in this, the more they expect from you.”

He said the mock assessment went well, and officers are preparing for June 1.

“We have a team of assessors coming in at which time they will go through the full process,” he said. “We’ll be soliciting feedback from the public as far as calling in or coming by to speak with assessors to speak about their views of the Oxford Police Department.”

Maiden said there’s a lot of interest nationwide on how police handle themselves and law enforcement is under a microscope with video technology on everyone’s smartphones at their fingertips. He said that is one of the top reasons why OPD is pursuing reaccreditation.

“The accreditation award is a very important thing because it speaks volumes to the quality of the agency,” he said. “One, you don’t do just enough to get by. These standards that are set by CALEA are above and beyond what’s necessary and usual. They set them high purposefully because they want you to be above average. Once you are able to do that and do that consistently, you’re providing services for the community that they not only need and demand, but it also meets their everyday requirements.

“Two, it cuts down on the problems you may encounter: the liability issues, the problems with excessive force, problems with unauthorized pursuits and a lot of the stuff we see on the national news that are nightmares for law enforcement. Third, it means we’re transparent.”

Maiden said OPD encourages its officers to get involved with the community and to establish quality relationships with the people they interact with regularly.

“Here in Oxford we have a good rapport with the community, so I think the negative feedback is going to be minimal,” he said. “We encourage our officers to be involved with the public. We have a number of officers involved in community service projects. We have a lot of guys involved in OPC and other activities such as community organizations.”

Is he nervous about the upcoming accreditation visit or the community feedback? Nope.

“The more that you become involved with this, the better they get at it,” he said. “You only get nervous about it if you don’t have it done right.”