Oak Bluffs police meet accreditation standards

Oak Bluffs police Chief Erik Blake received an accreditation certificate from Andover police Chief Brian Pattullo, chairman of the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission. — Photo courtesy of Oak Bluffs Police

The Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission certified the Oak Bluffs police force this week, following a rigorous examination of the department.

Accreditation requires the department to meet 159 separate standards. The standards cover equipment, training, policies, and procedures, based on national standards. Many of the standards focus on high risk or high liability issues for police departments, including the use of force, and the safety of police officers.

Inspectors from the commission visited the station as part of the accreditation process.

“One of the standards is you have to have police cars that have barriers between the officers and the prisoners, so they come and inspect the cars,” chief Erik Blake said. “They have a policy that requires a minimum ‘use of force’ training.”

The process requires a lot of time and effort for the police department. Chief Blake said the achievement pays off.

“Absolutely,” Chief Blake said. “If we have a ‘use of force’ incident where something is going to be called into question, I’m going to pull that officer’s file and show this person was trained, per our policy, and per the standards.”

He also said the town gets a discount on its liability insurance policies, and accreditation helps when the department is seeking grant funding. The certification is good for three years.

Chief Blake said the accreditation is a source of pride for the department.

“Would you attend a school or go to a hospital that’s not accredited?” he said.