The Bulletin Board

Sununu creates voluntary accreditation program for New Hampshire police departments

By: - July 26, 2022 3:25 pm
A police patch on an officer's back

The order came six months after the Executive Council approved $100,000 in federal funds to help the Police Standards and Training Council design an accreditation process. (Scott Olson | Getty Images)

Gov. Chris Sununu established the Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission Monday, creating a mechanism for local police departments to become recognized by national standards.

The accreditation program is one of 48 recommended items produced by the Commission on Law Enforcement Accountability, Community, and Transparency (LEACT), a group of police representatives and reform advocates who met in 2020 to find ways to improve laws and programs around policing in the state after the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis.

But the state’s program arrives as New Hampshire law enforcement agencies have been slow to seek other forms of accreditation. As of February, just 17 departments in the state had been certified by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, a national program. 

In an executive order, Sununu created the new panel to establish a state accreditation process to which police departments can volunteer to participate. The order came six months after the Executive Council approved $100,000 in federal funds to help the Police Standards and Training Council design an accreditation process. 

The process created Monday will be overseen by a commission consisting of representatives from the council, House, Senate, Attorney General’s Office, New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, and New Hampshire Sheriff’s Association. The governor has yet to appoint the remaining members: a representative from a college or university and a member of the public.

The commission will make recommendations to the council – which trains all New Hampshire law enforcement officers – over what the department-wide accreditation criteria should look like, according to the executive order. 

It will also carry out assessments of departments itself, issue certificates of accreditation, and encourage departments to participate in the process. 

In its preamble, the executive order emphasizes the importance of up-to-date training for law enforcement. 

“It is imperative that law enforcement agencies achieve and maintain the best practices, policies, training, supervision, and competence when enforcing the law and keeping communities safe,” the order states.

An accreditation process, the order continues, “provides a systemic pathway for self-assessment and compliance with professional standards.” 

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Ethan DeWitt
Ethan DeWitt

Ethan DeWitt is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s education reporter. Previously, he worked as the New Hampshire State House reporter for the Concord Monitor, covering the state, the Legislature, and the New Hampshire presidential primary. A Westmoreland native, Ethan started his career as the politics and health care reporter at the Keene Sentinel.

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