WASPC Accreditation

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Puyallup PD Receives Accreditation for Highest Professional Standards

The Puyallup Police Department has successfully completed an accreditation program as of November 2023, that certifies it is operating under best practices and standards for law enforcement. The program is administered by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) and involves an eight-phase process over several months.

“We are so proud to be accredited by WASPC,” says Police Chief Scott Engle. “Achieving this certification demonstrates that we are the best of the best police departments in the state. It also tells our residents that they can rest assured that we are a great department, and we are consummate professionals in all the work we do.”

The road to accreditation was a long one involving all divisions within the department. It also included an audit of the department, looking through every policy, procedure, and practice to ensure they are achieving efficiencies and high standards.

So, why did the PD pursue accreditation, and what does this mean for residents? In a word… accountability.

“Police accountability is important to ensure and improve public trust,” says McNiven. “Part of the benefit of going through the accreditation is that it takes an outside look at our organization and ensures we are achieving the highest standards. This certification is a badge of honor for us, and we are wearing it proudly.”

Chief Engle concurs and says that residents should be proud of this accreditation. “For residents, it tells them that we practice what we preach,” says Engle. “We follow current case law and hold ourselves accountable to residents. We are good stewards of their tax dollars by being efficient and following best practices.”

The Puyallup PD joins a relatively small club of other law enforcement agencies that have WASPC accreditation. Out of 281 law enforcement agencies statewide, there are only 71 that are professionally accredited, which is roughly 25 percent. The Puyallup PD is now the 72nd agency in the state to receive this accreditation. Why do so few agencies have this accreditation? Chief Engle says it comes down to the rigorous evaluation agencies must undergo.

This is not a rubber stamp. The road to accreditation is difficult, and WASPC wants to make sure you are crossing every T and dotting every I. Part of the WASPC accreditation process includes an onsite audit of the police building. According to McNiven, WASPC assigns the PD an assessor who does a deep dive into the building and looks for any issues or areas for improvement.

The onsite audit produced no formal findings or issues. However, the auditor did comment on the physical condition of the police building. Specifically, the evidence and property storage room is in poor condition. Chief Engle elaborates.

“One of the things that came up during the audit was the size and condition of our property and evidence storage room,” says Engle. “The auditor commented on the size of the room being too small, and it created some inefficiencies with how property and evidence are handled and stored. We are well aware of the challenges associated with the condition of our building and the rooms within it. To address that, we recently hired a second property and evidence technician, who has done a tremendous job of helping us get our property and evidence room organized.”

Puyallup PD says it was a team effort to get the accreditation, which speaks highly of the people working in the department. Benefits of accreditation include administrative and operational effectiveness, fair recruitment and employment practices, better records management, improved use of technology, health and safety, improved training, codes of conduct, and prisoner security, among other important law enforcement tasks.

“The Puyallup Police Department has worked hard to obtain this achievement,” said Steven Strahan, WASPC Executive Director. “The community should be proud of local law enforcement for taking direct and tangible steps to earn the public’s confidence in their operations.”

The certification is awarded for a four-year period, after which the re-accreditation process begins. “This is not a one-and-done accreditation,” says McNiven. “It is an ongoing project for the life of the department, and we look forward to growing and leaning into process improvements with re-accreditation.”

WASPC was founded in 1963 and represents executive and top management personnel from law enforcement agencies statewide. WASPC has over 900 members, including 39 county sheriffs, 240 police chiefs, Washington State Patrol, Washington Department of Corrections, and several federal agencies.

To learn more about WASPC and the accreditation process, please go to their website. For questions about the Puyallup PD’s accreditation, please contact Nichole McNiven at nmcniven@puyallupwa.gov.