City of Milton Police Chief Scott Marquardt received an award last week for his work helping other police agencies achieve accreditation.
Wisconsin Law Enforcement Accreditation Group (WILEAG) chose Marquardt as its 2020 President Award for the Team Leader/Assessor of the Year.
He helped an agency led by a chief who was new to the accreditation process. He also helped transition an agency that decided to move from full accreditation (over 200 standards) to CORE accreditation (more than 40 standards).
Marquardt himself was introduced to the accreditation process after he became the city of Milton chief in 2015.
The City of Milton Police Department received accreditation in 2014 and has been reaccredited every three years since then.
Much of the work has been done by the department’s accreditation manager, Det. Ryan Justice.
During the department’s reassessment in 2017, Marquardt, as chief, said, “To be honest, there was some big things that I missed and I didn’t do them right because I didn’t understand the process well enough.”
For example, he said one of the accreditation requirements is doing annual evaluations of all employees. Marquardt, wanting to restructure the evaluation process, hadn’t done that in 2016.
“As chief of police, I needed to understand the accreditation process,” he said. “We were able to make some fixes and everything went fine. That’s the thing about accreditation – no one expects perfection because there’s a lot of standards and there’s things sometimes that do need to be repaired.
“The WILEAG board walked me through what they needed me to do to make sure things were in place for the future and granted our accreditation in 2017.”
In the next accreditation cycle, Marquardt said he became more involved.
When Milton first began the process of accreditation, there was only full accreditation.
In 2014 WILEAG introduced CORE accreditation for Wisconsin law enforcement agencies serving cities, villages and towns under 10,000 population and sheriff’s offices serving counties with a county population of 30,000 or less.
Having already gone through full accreditation and developed the systems and processes for it, Marquardt said the Milton Police Department will continue to go through full accreditation.
“Developing the systems and processes to maintain accreditation is just as important as achieving it,” he said. “We have those in place and we’re constantly refining them and getting better and better at them and involving more people in the process.”
In the 2017-20 cycle, WILEAG added requirement that accredited agencies must serve as assessors, on average, three times in three years.
Marquardt started doing CORE assessments last year.
“The approach I took as an assessor is that I want people to understand what accreditation is and set them up for the future so it’s going to be easier to maintain over time,” he said. “That’s what I tried to do here and it seemed to go well.”
“The thing about accreditation and accreditation assessment is we’re all doing it for each other,” Marquardt added.
Full accreditation means three assessors spend two and a half days at the police station. For CORE assessments, the assessor works remotely.
Typically for a CORE assessment, he said assessors have about 60 days to review polices and provide feedback, then the WILEAG board makes a decision.
The CORE assessment focuses on 49 standards and policies. Those 40-some standards are mainly policy standards that are required by state statute that need to be up to date, things like accountability and processes relating to evidence, he said.
On its website, WILEAG lists 19 participating CORE agencies and 42 full accreditation agencies.
Police departments are not required to achieve accreditation, it’s voluntary.
“It’s a framework that makes sure you hit all the important things like the state statute required policies and best practices,” Marquardt said.
“If you truly want to make sure that you’re performing at a high standard, having the framework helps. It helps guide me as a leader how I express to the agency, ‘Here’s that level that we’re going to perform at and we’re going to have this structure underneath us to help us do that.’
“From a public perspective, it’s almost the same argument. We could just go on and do business and not do anything illegal, and we’re going to function fine as an agency and you’ll get your money’s worth. But, if we can say to the public, ‘We’re going to use this framework and build from a point of excellence, rather than adequacy,’ I think especially in this day and age, we need to build that credibility with our communities and this helps us do that.”
Commenting on the award, he said, “It’s got my name on it but it’s not just about me. From an internal standpoint, accreditation is an agency-wide activity.”