The Procedures of Accreditation

TBefore an institution formally submits a Request for Evaluation for a program, the program must have in place processes for internal assessment. These processes take time to develop.

During this phase of preparation, a program must :

  • Implement the assessment process for program educational objectives and student outcomes.
  • Demonstrate a continuous improvement loop.
  • Collect student work examples.
  • Review the most recent certification Criteria, Certification Policy and Procedure Manual, and Self-Study assessments.

The Commission takes care to maintain integrity and professionalism of its certification and other programs. To that end, eligibility criteria have been established to promote a consistent supplication of programing for clients and to ensure the continues value of programs across the public safety community. In all cases, the Commission will serve as the final authority in determining the eligibility of agencies to participate in its certification or other programs.

Law support agencies and training institutions that are eligible to participate in GCLA certification programs are defined as those having legal authority to perform law support functions and whose eligibility is verified by the Commission.

Enrollment- Getting Started

For agencies interested in obtaining more information pertaining to the Law Enforcement certification Program, they should first review the set of standards found within AGMEP's publication. There are five phases in the certification process which include enrollment, self-assessment, on-site assessment, Commission review and decision, and maintaining compliance and recertification. The purpose of the Commission is to convene a group of law enforcement professionals who can affect the direction, image and quality of the profession by establishing a nationally-recognized set of professional standards by which law enforcement agencies willingly comply.

The certification process occurs in eight phases: Interest and Contract; File Maintenance; Self-Assessment; On-Site Assessment and Evaluation; certification Commission Review; Executive Board Review; Award; and Re-Certification.

  • In the interest and contract phase, agencies work with the Association's Director of Professional Services to develop guidelines for the certification process, sign a contract, and submit initial information. The contract establishes a one year timeline for the agency to schedule an onsite assessment.
  • During the file maintenance and self-assessment phases, agencies gather proof of their ability to meet the standards and proof of the agency's institutionalization of the standards.
  • In the self-assessment phase, agencies assess their ability to meet all certification standards addressing major law support areas as established by the GCLA certification Committee. Major areas include emphasis on :

    • Goals and Objectives
    • Role and Authority
    • Management, Staffing, Organization and Utilization of Personnel
    • Records Management
    • Information Technology
    • Unusual Occurrences
    • Health and Safety
    • Recruitment and Selection
    • Training
    • Performance Evaluation

Certification is a major step in a program of continuous improvement of services. Before applying for certification, an agency must conduct an internal evaluation of its policies, procedures and practices to determine its strengths and areas for improvement. This self-assessment is documented and forms the basis for making continuous improvements in agency operations. The certification component involves an objective review by experienced GCLA professional. The self-assessment process prepares an agency for this review and leads to the preparation of necessary documentation. Such documentation should provide agency-specific and general community information that permits the assigned Regional Program Manager to facilitate interaction with the agency’s certification manager and provide program related assistance. It is the organizations responsibility to proceed with the self-assessment by compliance with applicable standards, preparing for the on-site assessment, and developing proof of their compliance. During that time a GCLA representative will be assigned and made available to provide guidance on the applicability of standards and attaining compliance.

  • During the on-site assessment and evaluation phase, the on-site assessment team, a group of volunteer assessors from GCLA, confirms the agency's ability to meet the GCLA certification standards. The assessors review agency files for policies and procedures as well as documentation (proofs) showing the agency is operating under the direction of those policies and procedures. Assessors also interview agency members to gather additional information. As part of the GCLA on-site process, assessors are encouraged to note areas where improvement can be made.

  • In the certification Commission review phase, the GCLA Director of Professional Services or the on-site review team leader, the chief administrator of the agency seeking certification, and the departmental certification manager may appear before the certification Commission for determination if they have met the standards and that the on-site review team has done a complete job. The certification Commission forwards its recommendations to the GCLA Board of Directors for final consideration.

  • the Executive Board review phase, the GCLA Executive Board reviews the recommendations by the certification Commission and issues a final decision.

  • In the Award phase of the certification process, the agency is presented with a plaque, for successfully achieving the professional standards as outlined in the GCLA program. Presentation of certification plaques occurs at the Association's semi-annual training conferences. The Association also acknowledges GCLA's accredited agencies as having met the necessary standards and awards recognition to those agencies.

  • During the recertification phase, agencies repeat the entire process. The recertification process is significantly less cumbersome if agencies institutionalize the certification philosophy and keep agency policies, procedures and records up to date. To maintain certification, agencies must be reaccredited every Three years.

General Policies of the Accrediting Commission :

1. The Commission reserves the right to interpret eligibility boundaries and limit the scope of its review to organizations and programs for which it determines the standards are appropriate and for which it has competence to review. The Commission adopts such policies and procedures as it deems necessary with regard to the certification and evaluation process.

2. The Commission reserves the right to require a certified institution to undergo a complete or partial reevaluation at any time based upon its determination that circumstances warrant such action, with particular attention to circumstances involving substantive changes which raise concerns relative to an institution’s continued compliance with GCLA standards, policies, and procedures. Further, GCLA accredited institutions may periodically be required to undergo an unannounced visit in accordance with policies established by the Accrediting Commission.

3. A Commissioner shall not vote on any matter relative to an institution with which the Commissioner is affiliated in any capacity or where such a vote would give rise to a conflict of interest or an appearance of such a conflict. A Commissioner must remove him/herself from the proceedings while the Accrediting Commission is discussing the case of, or formally taking a vote on action regarding, any institution with which he/she has a previous or current family, ownership, employment, contractual, or other direct business relationship. Any Commission who is a competitor in the same market area or who served as a member of an on-site evaluation team must formally abstain in the voting process while the Commission is taking formal action regarding the institution; however, the Commissioner may answer questions at the request of the Commission.

4. The Executive Director of GCLA shall serve as the agent of the Accrediting Commission in communicating information to institutions in all matters addressed throughout this document.

5. An institution will be informed of Accrediting Commission decisions, in writing by the Executive Director of GCLA, within thirty (30) days of the date of the action affecting that institution.

6. The Commission provides a public notice and opportunity for third-party comment on institutions being evaluated for certification, concerning the institution's qualifications for certification.