The Maplewood Police Department recently received was reaccredited by the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police (NJASCOP), a feat only achieved by “an elite group of law enforcement agencies,” according to an organization representative.
The award was presented at a ceremony at the Maplewood Township Committee’s May 1 meeting.
The accreditation program, which was launched several years ago, establishes standards for police officers in the state, helping to improve their practices and reduce liability and workers compensation claims.
Out of roughly 550 state police departments eligible to apply, only 200 make it through the “rigorous” 3-year process and fewer than 1% become reaccredited, said Chief Harry Delgado at the ceremony. He lauded the MPD for its commitment to working with the community and its “high level of competence and leadership.”
Find out more about the program here.
Chief Jim DeVaul said the reaccreditation was one of his biggest goals when he became chief. To begin the process, he assembled a team comprised of Lt. Thomas DiMaggio, Sgt. Brian Weagley and Officer Christopher Dolias. Assessors, who are independent and impartial, conducted a series of inspections. “What makes this process so effective is that the department is asking for this review to be completed, so we have to prepare to accept criticism,” DeVaul told Village Green.
DeVaul said since he became acting chief, “I recognized the challenges that lie ahead of me and am facing them head on. It would have been very easy to let our accredited status slip away [but] the accreditation process has always been important to me. It ensures our policies and best practices are maintained at the highest levels. The process also ensures that we are ‘practicing what we preach.'”
He continued, “It’s our willingness to listen and make changes that will have the greatest impact on the department moving forward.”
Also at the meeting, the TC voted to appoint Sgt. Peter Kuenzel to Lieutenant and also discussed making changes to the MPD’s organizational table by creating a Deputy Chief position, among other things.
“We recognize that improving the command structure of the MPD is a top priority,” said TC member Greg Lembrich. “Development of better training, professional standards, and traffic enforcement require both vision and execution by experienced officers. Creating a Deputy Chief position, and clearly delineating the responsibilities of our Captains, will help to accomplish these goals. The Deputy Chief will also serve as the Department’s liaison to the newly formed Community Board on Police. We want to give Chief DeVaul and the Department the resources they will need to make the necessary reforms and better serve all of our community.”