Agencies praise work with Cornwall police during accreditation hearing

Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies assessors Bill Welch and David Belmont share a laugh before a public information session Dec. 7, 2015 at the Seaway Valley Community Health Center in Cornwall, Ont. The CALEA panel is reviewing the local police service as it looks to renew its voluntary accreditation. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – From agencies dealing with youth and child abuse to groups representing minorities, the working relationship with the Cornwall Community Police Service appears to be very healthy.

Roughly 25 people showed up for the public meeting Monday night as the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) reviews the police service.

The accreditation is a voluntary act by CCPS to get the service a standing of excellence only reserved for a few police forces in North America.

Assessors Bill Welch and David Belmont listened to several speakers for just over an hour, many praising their working relationship with Cornwall officers.

Former Children’s Treatment Center board member Pierre Guindon told the panel “all of us are proud of the most positive and collaborative relationship that exists” between the center for abused children and the police service.

Guindon also named a number of officers, including Staff Sgt. Brian Snyder and Chief Dan Parkinson, for helping support the center.

Dan O’Rourke, assistant director with Laurencrest Youth Services, said the chief’s focus on youth has “fit well” with the center.

O’Rourke said police officers visit the at-risk youth center regularly and are available to interact with the youth to show that “they’re not the enemies.”

A member of the Children’s Aid Society SDG said the Cornwall Community Police Service has been quick to assist with their caseload and officers don’t have “a punitive approach.”

Boys and Girls Club of Cornwall/SDG Executive Director Jacquie Richards told the assessors that Chief Parkinson has been involved for most of the club’s local existence. “We wouldn’t be able to do what we do without the strong support from the police,” Richards said.

The police service also was praised for its relationships with minority communities.

Barbara Helms, executive director with the Center for Islamic Education, said she has organized training for officers on what they should know about Islam and Muslims. The training came after a request last winter from Sgt. George Knezevic.

“I felt very well received. I was very pleased with the kind of questions that were asked. It was very clear that they were trying to become aware of what approaches would do best to build trust and help to understand and get closer to the Muslim community,” Helms told the panel.

The assessors will take the data and submit a report to CALEA, which sends it to the commission for review before it goes to the full commission hearing in St. Louis, Mo. in April 2016.

Assessment Team Leader David Belmont told Cornwall Newswatch the accreditation is much like what colleges go through.

“You would want to send your children to an accredited college. You want your police department to also be the standards to show the community that they’re meeting what are the minimal accepted standards, what are the best practices in the industry,” Belmont said.

Belmont says it forces police services to look at their policies and procedures every three years to meet the 189 standards.

You can still give feedback on the police service by mail to: Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Inc. (CALEA), 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainsville, Virginia, 20155 or to the Cornwall Community Police Service, 340 Pitt Street, P.O. Box 875, Cornwall, Ontario K6H 5T7 with the attention to CALEA Accreditation Assessment Team.

You can also email calea@calea.org.

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