The “Accreditation of Mexican Law Enforcement Agencies, Emergency Communications Centers and Police Academies to International Standards”, also referred to as the “Enhancing Professionalism in Mexican Law Enforcement Agencies” project is a multi-year initiative of the Police Foundation (PF) and the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) with funding support from the United States Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL). The purpose of the project is to improve the professionalization of Mexican law enforcement agencies by increasing the number of Mexican agencies that are accredited through one of CALEA’s accreditation programs. CALEA allows agencies in its Law Enforcement Accreditation Program up to 3 years to complete a self-assessment and prepare for an on-site assessment by independent assessors to determine if the agency complies with CALEA’s Law Enforcement Standards. CALEA allows agencies in its Communications Accreditation and Training Academy Accreditation Programs up to 2 years to complete their self-assessments in preparation for the CALEA on-site assessment.
The PF selects and trains Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to provide on-site and remote technical assistance to Mexican agencies while they conduct their self-assessments to ensure they comply with applicable CALEA accreditation standards. The SMEs then conduct mock assessments to ensure the agency is ready for the CALEA On-site. CALEA then sends independent assessors to conduct a structured on-site, which includes a comprehensive review of the agency’s accreditation documentation as well as an examination of the agency’s operations and procedures. The assessor team leader writes a report of the results of the on-site that forms the basis of a panel hearing at the next CALEA conference where agency staff must address any issues raised in the report. Thereafter, the CALEA Commissioners vote as to whether or not the agency is in compliance with all applicable standards and is deserving of CALEA Accreditation.
When an agency is accredited, it begins a 4-year re-accreditation cycle wherein the agency must continue to comply with the standards before another on-site assessment by independent assessors. After an agency is accredited, the PF’s SMEs maintain periodic contact with the agency’s staff to help ensure that the agency continues to comply with all applicable standards and meets requirements for future re-accreditation.
Over the course of the initiative, the PF, CALEA and INL officials have identified potential accreditation candidate agencies at the municipal, state and federal levels in Mexico. Those agencies were invited to participate in the grant and, if they committed to doing so, the PF worked with them to prepare for the accreditation process. This preparation includes developing familiarity with and understanding of the CALEA approach, assessing agency readiness, identifying and planning for policy and procedural changes necessary for the agency to be considered for accreditation status, and preparing agency leaders and staff for the CALEA on-site assessment.
Among the anticipated results of the project is an increase in the number of accredited agencies in Mexico, improved policies and procedures, and increased citizen and officer perceptions of professionalism within the agencies. To date, the PF has helped 16 Mexican agencies become accredited and is assisting 58 other agencies proceed methodically toward accreditation.
The PF and CALEA agree that accrediting Mexico’s law enforcement agencies, communications centers, and training academies will further enhance opportunities for material reform by creating a strong policy foundation on which Mexican agencies can consistently operate and bolster community relations and public trust between Mexican officers and citizens. Where CALEA accreditation is awarded, the agencies will experience significant opportunities to leverage greater reforms and to maintain the credibility and professionalization that comes with internationally recognized accreditation.
This accreditation process, once completed, is a proven contemporary management model and presents the agency’s Chief Executive Officer with a blueprint that promotes the efficient use of resources and improves service delivery—regardless of the size, geographic location, or functional responsibilities of the agency – for many years thereafter. This methodology is sustainable once the foundation for accreditation is built and can then further enhance the community trust and police accountability.
The Enhancing Professionalism in Mexican Law Enforcement Agencies Initiative is funded by the United States Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. With this funding support, the PF and CALEA have joined together in an unprecedented and unique collaboration to support the U.S.-Mexico Mérida Initiative and to help foster professional police services, trust and confidence in Mexican law enforcement.
National Police Foundation
Senior Program Manager
National Police Foundation
Police services, Accreditation, CALEA, Emergency Communications Centers, assessing agency readiness, International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs