The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association introduced the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Program in 2001. Since that date, only a small percentage of the police agencies in Pennsylvania have been able to claim such a prestigious certification.
To be awarded accreditation status by the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accrediting Commission an agency must undergo a rigorous process which involves application, self-assessment, development of internal policy, systematic implementation of change, training of personnel, and proof of compliance in conformance with established professional standards and objectives. Finally when ready, a formal on-site assessment is conducted by three contracted representatives of the commissioning board. During the formal assessment, a two day on-site examination takes place. The examination is thorough and involves the review of facility accommodations, uniforms and equipment, written policy and operating procedure, and agency files to ensure compliance with the 132 established standards.
The Bethlehem Township Police Department received its official certification of accreditation from the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission in 2013. The benefits of being awarded accreditation certification are significant and can be viewed through this link.
But to our agency the overall message is clear; by seeking, obtaining and maintaining accreditation certification our personnel proudly signal that we will provide exemplar police service to the public we protect and serve, and in doing so we will continue to prove and maintain adherence to established best practices.
The accreditation program is not static in nature. It is an ongoing and dynamic process. To maintain accreditation certification an agency must remain in compliance with established standards, must continually train its personnel in accordance with the requirements, and it must remain up-to-date with all policy, procedure, standard and statute changes. To ensure that this is taking place, the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission requires certified agencies to comply with annual reporting criteria which details related activities. Additionally, an accredited agency must be recertified every three years by re-submitting to the two-day on-site assessment conducted by three different contracted representatives of the commissioning board.
Sergeant Shaun Powell is currently assigned as the Bethlehem Township Police Department Accreditation Manager and can be reached at