Yes, I Voted No. Here’s Why.

First, we are not any less safe today than we were yesterday. And we won’t be any less safe tomorrow. I say this with confidence because I have faith that the dedicated professionals of the SPD will continue to provide us with the first-rate service for which we have come to respect them. I have faith in our Chief of Police to lead them and hold them accountable to the standards that have allowed them to do that for years.

To reiterate my position from last night: I am not against accreditation. I think there is value in having standards and accountability for maintaining them. And there is value to being held accountable by someone outside the agency. However, I also believe that we should have in place a long-term plan to support it. That plan should be created upon successful completion of a feasibility study to include at minimum a full costs, benefits, and financial analysis, with key milestones and incremental costs for implementation identified. It should also fully detail any constraints (potential factors that will impact successful implementation) and dependencies. It must consider time, cost, date, and regulatory issues as constraints or dependencies to successful completion of accreditation. And it should identify areas in which it will require Council support to remove obstacles and make sure necessary dependencies are in place.

In my opinion, it would be irresponsible to begin the accreditation process without having done that legwork. We have not.  We have information only on the bare minimums: costs to be paid directly to CALEA. We do not have estimated costs for related projects that may have to be completed to meet accreditation standards (of which there are 484 for Tier 2 accreditation, 189 for Tier 1).

My “no” vote did not come easily or quickly. As I said last night, I spent a lot of time on this one. I lost sleep over it.

I promised to do my research, and I did over the last two weeks. I spoke with Police Chiefs, including our own, Accreditation Managers, including our own, other law enforcement officials from a variety of agencies, a state accreditation assessor, and a regional CALEA manager. And I hit the books. I read articles on accreditation from Justice Quarterly, Public Administration Review, Policing: an International Journal of Strategies and Management, the Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, amongst others. None of these gave me the complete picture I needed to commit to a yes vote.

It is incumbent upon us as city leaders to make data-driven decisions that focus on the long-term future of our city—not just this year or next. We have many needs in all of our departments. In order to prioritize those needs to use our resources most effectively and achieve our goals, we must have a complete picture. We owe that to our city and its taxpayers.