The Altoona Police Department protects a small town in northwest Wisconsin. The department’s 17 sworn officers use Lexipol law enforcement policies and online training as well as Lexipol’s Wisconsin accreditation service.

The Challenge

With command-level experience at several law enforcement agencies, Chief Kelly Bakken knew firsthand the difficulties of managing agency policy. “For departments that create their own policies, it’s very challenging,” she says. “You have to do the research, you’re drawing from other agency policies, and you’re relying on review by city attorneys who aren’t experts in law enforcement. Managing a policy manual on your own quickly becomes a full-time job.”

Having implemented Lexipol’s Law Enforcement Policies and Updates solution at two previous departments, Chief Bakken was happy to see that Altoona Police Department (APD) was using the system when she was sworn in as chief in 2019. But she quickly ran into a new challenge as the APD started to pursue a new goal: accreditation.

“We started with CALEA accreditation,” says Sgt. Jacob Henning, the department’s accreditation manager. “But there are very few agencies in Wisconsin that are CALEA-accredited, so we were really going it alone. We had trouble understanding the specificity of the standards, what the assessors were really looking for.”

The Solution

When Lexipol began rolling out a new Law Enforcement Accreditation Service to select states, including Wisconsin, Chief Bakken and Sgt. Henning saw an opportunity. “We realized we could start with WILEAG (Wisconsin Law Enforcement Accreditation Group) accreditation first, and gain from the support and guidance of Lexipol,” Sgt. Henning says. “That would better prepare us to pursue CALEA accreditation.”

Lexipol’s accreditation service combines the policy management APD already had in place with online, standards- based training through PoliceOne Academy. “Previously, we had a different online training platform, but PoliceOne Academy really supports the accreditation process by providing training specific for WILEAG,” Chief Bakken says.

Agencies using Lexipol’s state accreditation service also receive one-on-one assistance to help prepare for the assessment. “Lexipol came through with an experienced eye and suggested changes and caught things we missed,” Sgt. Henning says. This guidance has also helped prepare APD to pursue CALEA. “The accreditation support we got from Lexipol was great,” Chief Bakken says. “Our representative not only knew the WILEAG portion but was very helpful regarding CALEA. She always had an idea of how we could make the policy work for our agency. When we went through the WILEAG mock assessment, there were very few things we had to change.”

APD uses Lexipol’s PowerStandards integration to support both the WILEAG and CALEA processes. “The integration is set up so the policies come over automatically,” Sgt. Henning says. “It keeps everything up to date, so we don’t have to go in and do it manually.”

The Results

The APD is well on its way to achieving the ambitious goal of becoming dual-accredited. While the department had solid policy in place since 2014, pursuing accreditation has prompted them to achieve operational improvements. “I believe in holding myself and the department to a high standard,” Chief Bakken says. “Going through the accrediting process is good for transparency, for the public to know that the entire department is held to state and national standards.”

And the results are noticeable. “We are seeing increased community satisfaction already. They see us out and about, engaged in the community,” Chief Bakken says. “We’re providing a better service to our community by holding ourselves to a higher standard.”

The ability to partner with one vendor that can provide policies, training and accreditation support has proved invaluable. “It’s much easier when you have it all in one box,” Chief Bakken says. “The Lexipol staff we’re working with, whether it’s policy or accreditation or training, they’re able to talk to one another and work things out if we have questions. Everyone works hand in hand to get us to where we need to be. It’s seamless.”

"Everyone at Lexipol works hand in hand to get us to where we need to be. It’s seamless."

- Chief Kelly Bakken

Altoona (WI) Police Department
"The accreditation support we got from Lexipol was great. Our representative not only knew the WILEAG portion but was very helpful regarding CALEA."

- Chief Kelly Bakken

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