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Framingham police reach state accreditation
By Norman Miller / Daily News Staff
Saturday, March 12, 2005

FRAMINGHAM -- A nearly decade-long process came to an end Thursday when a state commission awarded accreditation to the Framingham Police Department.

Framingham is only the 16th department in the state to be recognized by Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission.

"Achieving the Commission's highest award demonstrates your department's commitment to delivering an exemplary level of police service in your community," wrote commission president and Andover Police Chief Brian J. Pattullo in a letter to the department.

"We commend your department for its accomplishments and applaud you personally for your leadership role in the process," Pattullo wrote.

Deputy Police Chief Craig Davis said achieving accreditation is a huge step for the department and the community as a whole.

"We will have accountability for every process along the way," said Davis. "There will be a consistency to our level of service. It means, regardless whether an officer who has been on the job for six months or 26 years shows up at the event, it will be the same."

Davis said former Chief Brent Larrabee got the ball rolling on accreditation in the mid-to-late 1990s. Since then, every single police procedure had to be documented in writing.

The new policy and procedure book contains more than 1,000 pages and is several inches thick, Davis said.

"It was basically a top-to-bottom review of all the procedures in the department," said Davis. "We had to match an established set of standards to attain state accreditation. It forced us to critically examine everything we do."

Many of the recommended procedures were already being done by Framingham Police, Davis said, but it was not written in detail. He said new officers had to be taught what to do, but they did not necessarily have a written guide.

Also, some physical changes to the station had to be made. The lobby and dispatch area had to be made more secure. Alarms were added to the holding cells area, and the building had to be made more handicapped accessible, Davis said.

Even something like how to handle cash used in undercover drug buys had to change, Davis said.

Previously, money would be kept in a lock box, and if someone needed the money, they had to write their name, the amount of money taken and why.

"Now, we have an ATM card, and the detectives can use it and get a receipt for the money, so we know exactly how much is used," Davis said.

Also taking some time was negotiating with the police union. Every policy change had to go in front of them, Davis said.

"I'm very happy it's done," said Davis. "It's been a long, arduous process. I've been working on it almost exclusively for the past several years."

Although accreditation does not make the department eligible for more grants, there is a hidden financial benefit, Davis said.

"This reduces our exposure to liability because we're following state guidelines, which is a benefit financially," Davis said.

Davis said the accreditation is good for three years, and the department will have to be reaccredited in 2008.
 
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