The O’Fallon Police Department has achieved professional accreditation from a state organization and is only one of 28 police forces in Illinois to be so honored.
The O’Fallon department joins the city of Carbondale and the Southern Illinois University Carbondale police departments as the only ones downstate from Champaign to be recognized in an arduous evaluation process developed by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.
An official accreditation award ceremony took place Monday, Dec. 3 during the O’Fallon City Council meeting. This was the first time in its history that the department was assessed.
“We have the best police department in the entire region, as proven with this announcement,” Mayor Herb Roach said. “What they went through to achieve this accreditation. Only two other departments have this south of Champaign. This was not an easy task.”
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Leland Grove Police Chief Dan Ryan presented a plaque to members of the O’Fallon accreditation committee.
“It’s a huge deal. They are only one of 28 departments in the state that have reached this level,” he told the crowd.
He explained what Tier One accreditation means for the O’Fallon Police Department.
“This is a tremendous accomplishment. There are countless regulations required to record the data, from prison transfers to DUI to medical care to evidence. This solidifies your agency as one of the best, without a doubt,” Ryan said.
He noted his own department has not gone through the process because of the extensive time commitment and the resources necessary.
“It’s too much time and effort,” he said. “This is the future, and we will have to at some point, but this is a huge accomplishment for your department.”
This Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation Program examined 67 standards and policies of the O’Fallon Police Department regarding administration, operations, training and personnel and evaluated them against an established criterion by an independent and authoritative body of the police chiefs’ association.
The department began the process in February, and in October, an assessment team arrived, making sure the department was updated and current on policies and procedures. While in town for two days, they sought comments from the public on their experiences.
The assessors conducted inspections, interviews, policy reviews and audits of the department to determine if the O’Fallon Police Department was worthy of accreditation status.
After that was completed, the assessment team conferred, developed an on-site report, and met with the chiefs’ association’s ILEAP Council to discuss their findings. The council had to vote to determine if O’Fallon met the professional standards to be awarded accreditation.
O’Fallon Police Chief Eric Van Hook complimented the committee, pointing out Capt. Jim Cavins took the lead on the project. Lts. Kerry Andrews and Dave Matevey worked long hours. He thanked Leah Wilson for her work with the budget reports. He also mentioned Mick Hunter, who was unable to be at Monday’s meeting, for his work as the public safety analyst and records supervisor.
“When you work with great people, great things can happen,” he said.
Van Hook said the city was fortunate to have a good working policy manual and a risk management firm city-wide, not just police. He said Lexipol is a system they use that manages state mandates and case law, keeping departments up to date.
The department’s goal is to be current with what the best practices are in the state, so that they are all going in the same direction.
“The state has been moving to uniform process, what are the best practices. In several areas, they will make recommendations. We want to keep it updated and current, and that we all are going in the same direction,” he said.
“The team has done an incredible job. It’s very labor-intensive,” Van Hook said. “They worked countless hours on this and had to meet deadlines.”
Mayor Roach said O’Fallon was blessed with good Public Safety divisions -- EMS, Fire Department and Police Department.