WASHINGTON CITY — Since 2020, the Washington City Police Department has grown to 39 sworn officers, three school resource officers and three K-9 handlers — an increase of 24%.
Recently, the department received accreditation from the Utah Chiefs of Police Association. What does that mean?
“The citizens of Washington City can be confident that their department is progressive in implementing and adhering to good police practices and policies,” said Val Shupe, executive director for the Utah Chiefs of Police Association. “The accreditation process has been in effect since 2013 and has been enhanced since 2015. It is coordinated and managed through the Utah Chiefs of Police Association and the Utah Accreditation Alliance.”
To earn accreditation from the alliance, departments are required to promote and adhere to 176 standards of good police practices and include any federally mandated requirements, Shupe said of the process.
“They must show that they have the policies in their department policy manuals,” he said. “And actually show examples in some cases of how they have complied.”
How evidence is tracked and stored, use of force policy, new employee training and emergency vehicle use standards are just a few of the 176 policies the Washington Police Department had to prove they are in compliance with, Chief Jason Williams told St. George News.
The Washington City Police Department recently became the fourth department in Southern Utah to earn accreditation from the Utah Chiefs of Police Association, Washington City, Utah, Nov. 11, 2023 | Photo by Haven Scott, St. George News
“It’s kind of a feather in our cap to say, ‘Hey we reached these standards, we achieved these standards,’” he said. “They are important to us and important to the way we serve our community.”
Washington City Police’s Lt. Kory Klotz and evidence technician Stan McCauley also met with St. George News to discuss the years-long process of alliance accreditation.
Williams started the process several years ago before being promoted to chief in 2019. McCauley took over policy checks, software glitches and policy updates since then.
“It shows the buy-in from our department of, we want to be as professional as possible,” Klotz said. “And make sure that our citizens know that you have an outstanding Police Department here.”
McCauley noted that although years in the making, getting the accreditation is just a starting point for the department’s policies.
“This is a living document,” he said “As more legislation is made and more laws are put in place, the accreditation will be added to.”
St. George Police Chief Kyle Whitehead and Cedar City Police Chief Darin Adams presented the accreditation to Williams in a City Council meeting on Nov. 8.
“I hope you all are very proud of your Police Department,” Whitehead said in the meeting. “This is a very grueling process, something that has taken a lot of time throughout the agency to make sure these standards are met.”
Adams ultimately performed the inspections and gave feedback to the Police Department until accreditation was granted.
“This is not an easy accomplishment,” Adams noted in the meeting. “There are 109 police agencies in the state of Utah … and I think 45 of those agencies have achieved accreditation.”
In Southern Utah, the Cedar City, Santa Clara – Ivins and Utah Tech University police departments have achieved accreditation with the state alliance, making Washington City the fourth department in the region.
Williams said in Washington City, the accreditation accolades should be distributed widely, as “it was a city-wide effort” between city administration, civic leaders and police staff.
“We pride ourselves in having that small town feel, but still going through that growth,” Williams said. “We want people to feel connected to their community. And we want to feel connected to the community as well. So our style of policing might not match where they came from, but they enjoy that change.”
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