The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., (CALEA®) was created in 1979 as a credentialing authority through the joint efforts of law enforcement's major executive associations:
- International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP);
- National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE);
- National Sheriffs' Association (NSA); and the
- Police Executive Research Forum (PERF).
The purpose of CALEA’s Accreditation Programs is to improve the delivery of public safety services, primarily by: maintaining a body of standards, developed by public safety practitioners, covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence.
Specifically, CALEA’s goals are to:
- Strengthen crime prevention and control capabilities;
- Formalize essential management procedures;
- Establish fair and nondiscriminatory personnel practices;
- Improve service delivery;
- Solidify interagency cooperation and coordination; and
- Increase community and staff confidence in the agency.
The CALEA Accreditation Process is a proven modern management model; once implemented, it presents the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), on a continuing basis, 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.
This accreditation program provides public safety agencies an opportunity to voluntarily demonstrate that they meet an established set of professional standards which:
- Require an agency to develop a comprehensive, well thought out, uniform set of written directives. This is one of the most successful methods for reaching administrative and operational goals, while also providing direction to personnel.
- Provide the necessary reports and analyses a CEO needs to make fact-based, informed management decisions.
- Require a preparedness program be put in place—so an agency is ready to address natural or man-made critical incidents.
- Are a means for developing or improving upon an agency's relationship with the community.
- Strengthen an agency's accountability, both within the agency and the community, through a continuum of standards that clearly define authority, performance, and responsibilities.
- Can limit an agency's liability and risk exposure because it demonstrates that internationally recognized standards for law enforcement have been met, as verified by a team of independent outside CALEA-trained assessors.
- Facilitates an agency's pursuit of professional excellence.
A Commission Board composed of 21 members governs CALEA. Eleven must be law enforcement practitioners; the balance is selected from the public and private sectors. Generally, they reflect a representation from local, state/provincial and international law enforcement and public safety organizations, along with business, academia, the judiciary, and state/provincial and local government. The Commissioners are appointed by the four founding law enforcement organizations, and serve without compensation.
CALEA operates as an independent, nonprofit (501[c]3) corporation, and maintains a professional staff managed by an Executive Director. The staff conducts all administrative and operational duties as directed by the Commission. CALEA publishes a newsletter magazine three times a year, entitled CALEA Update, for its members and maintains a professional website. CALEA offers accreditation related training at each of it's conferences, as well as presentations on current issues in law enforcement.