Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA)
In 2012, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office began to pursue law enforcement accreditation in conjunction with a program sponsored by the New Jersey State Chiefs of Police and the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).
The purpose of the CALEA’s Accreditation Program is to improve the delivery of public safety services by maintaining a body of standards developed by public safety consultants. The standards, which cover a wide range of public safety initiatives, are updated on an as-needed basis as laws change.
The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office along with The Ocean County Sheriff’s Department, successfully completed the CALEA Accreditation Program in 2013, becoming the fifth County in New Jersey to hold joint Accreditation status.
The Accreditation is for a three year period and brings several significant benefits to this Office. It enhances public safety by ensuring that best practices and procedures are being employed at all times and deficiencies are readily identified so that they can be brought into compliance.
The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office (Office) was certified by the Accreditation Commission of the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police in May of 2013 as a police agency that follows best practices. The Office was re-certified in 2016 and again in 2019.
Administered by the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police, the accreditation program requires agencies to comply with best practice standards in five basic areas: the administrative function, the personnel function, the operations function, the investigative function, and the arrestee/detainee function. The accreditation program consists of a review by a team of assessors of three years of documentation provided by the Office. The documentation demonstrates that the Office has written policies and procedures that meet best practice standards for law enforcement and that the Office meets those standards in its routine practices serving the citizens of Ocean County.
The Accreditation Program focuses on six major law enforcement areas:
- Responsibilities and relationships with other agencies;
- Organization, management, and administration;
- Personnel administration;
- Law enforcement operations, operational support and traffic law enforcement;
- Detainee and court-related services; and
- Auxiliary and technical services.
The Accreditation Program also focuses on accountability by including a management system of written directives. These directives include a focus on training, defining lines of authority, and creating reports that support decision-making and resource allocation.
The Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Digital Forensic Laboratory is accredited through the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation. The accreditation covers all aspects of computer, mobile device and video forensic examinations that are conducted within the laboratory and within the mobile laboratory.
The move towards accreditation began in 2013 with extensive planning, training of personnel, building out a laboratory and the purchasing of equipment. In 2015, the United States Department of Justice ordered that all federal laboratories move toward accreditation over the next five years and released the following statement: “The Department believes that accreditation is one of the most important tools for ensuring that forensic science is practiced in a reliable, scientifically rigorous way.” As noted by then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, “[a]ccreditation provides valuable oversight by ensuring that someone outside the participating laboratory has confirmed that the lab is following their required procedures. We support accreditation and we want to expand accreditation as widely as possible.” While accreditation was not required in New Jersey, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office took the lead and followed the Department of justice and sought accreditation in 2017.
Our Digital Forensic Laboratory is the first non-federal digital forensic laboratory to be accredited in the State of New Jersey.