NJSACOP Law Enforcement Accreditation Program Designated “Independent Credentialing Body” by U.S. Department of Justice

On October 28, 2020 The Department of Justice announced the Standards for Certification as a result of President’s June Executive Order 13929, Safe Policing for Safe Communities. Independent credentialing bodies will begin certifying thousands of law enforcement agencies over the next three months.
 
Pursuant to the announcement we received official notification of our designation by the U.S. DOJ of our designation as an independent credentialing body. As an independent credentialing body, the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police Law Enforcement Accreditation Program, will play a critical role by conducting the review and certification of law enforcement agencies within the jurisdiction of the state of New Jersey. 
 
An independent credentialing body will certify an applying law enforcement agency if it determines — or, within the past 36 months, has already determined — that the agency is in compliance with two mandatory safe policing principles;
 
A. Adherence to Applicable Laws
 
The applying agency maintains use of force policies that adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local laws.
 
B. Prohibition of Choke Holds
 
The applying agency maintains use of force policies that prohibit the use of choke holds, except in situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law.
 
Certification is a prerequisite to a law enforcement agency’s eligibility for Department of Justice discretionary grant funding. Agencies will be required to obtain certification by January 31, 2021 in order to be eligible for federal funds in 2021. The NJSACOP LEAP –PSAP as a credentialing body will maintain a database of certified agencies within our jurisdiction, and submit this list to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (or “COPS Office”), which will serve as the repository for the list of all eligible law enforcement agencies.
 
EO 13929 and DOJ Standards of Certification are applicable to state, local, and university or college law enforcement agencies (LEA) seeking DOJ discretionary (i.e., competitive) grant funding. They do not apply to tribal law enforcement agencies.
 
Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA) that plan to or could apply to receive DOJ discretionary grant funds should begin reviewing their policies to determine whether they meet the criteria as set forth in the Standards of Certification. LEAs can contact the NJSACOP LEAP-PSAP, an independent DOJ-approved credentialing body, with questions and assistance. Those LEAs that believe they comply with the Standards of Certification can immediately initiate a letter via email to the NJSACOP LEAP-PSAP Accreditation Program Director at hdelgado@njsacop.org seeking further review and approval. LEAs that plan to apply for DOJ discretionary grant funds for FY 2021 must be certified or have started the certification process no later than January 31, 2021. * FY 2021 grant solicitations occur between October 1, 2020, and September 30, 2021.
 
LEAs need not be certified by January 31, 2021, to apply for any DOJ discretionary grants for FY 2021; however, they must be in the process of being certified. Applicants must affirm and provide proof that they are in the process of becoming certified as  complying with safe policing practices at the time of making a grant application. Being in the process of receiving certification means that the LEA must have contacted a local credentialing body and the body must be in the process of conducting its review. Applicant agencies that are in the process of certification and that are selected to receive discretionary grant funds must be certified by the time they accept the grant award.
 
Beyond the two mandatory certification standards, the DOJ’s certification standards encourage an independent assessment of law enforcement policies and procedures, such as: 1) training protocols on use of force; 2) training protocols on de-escalation; 3) the scope of an officer’s duty and obligation to intervene in order to prevent excessive force by another officer; 4) when and how an officer should provide appropriate medical care; 5) officers identifying themselves as law enforcement and giving verbal warning of their intent to use deadly force; and 6) shooting at or from a moving vehicle.
 
Additionally, law enforcement agencies are encouraged to implement early intervention systems to promote officer wellness and to identify officers who may be at risk of violating use of force policies, policies and procedures to help them recruit and promote the best and brightest, and community engagement plans to address each community’s specific needs.
 
I am pleased to say that NJSACOP LEAP-PSAP Accredited agencies meet these recommended (encouraged) standards.  It is evident, why we strongly encourage other LEAs to seek full accreditation. 

If you are a current NJSACOP LEAP-PSAP member or are interested in us providing your agency's certification, log into the NJSACOP website and complete the “Applying Law Enforcement Agency Declaration of Principles of Safe Policing and Use of Force” form. You will need to provide copies of the policies attesting that your agency adheres to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Standards for Certification on Safe Policing for Communities.

Please download and complete the form. Email with copies of policies to hdelgado@njsacop.org Once reviewed for certification, you will receive a confirmation letter and your agency will be added to the database of certified law enforcement agencies.   

Applying Law Enforcement Agency Declaration of Principles on Safe Policing and Use of Force [CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD]