Smithfield police highlighted for accreditation status

Smithfield police highlighted for accreditation status

The Rhode Island Police Accreditation Commission first department spotlight was on the Smithfield Police Department this month. From left are Patrol Officer Amber DeCristofaro, Sgt. Orlando Braxton and Patrol Officer Kerrin D’Agnelli, representing the department in the Sgt. Norman G. Vezina Community and Training Room at the station, 215 Pleasant View Ave.

SMITHFIELD – The Smithfield Police Department kicked off the first Rhode Island Police Accreditation Commission Agency Spotlight this month for its accomplishments in the community and its department.

For Chief Richard St. Sauveur, accreditation status means following the roadmap of how to run a professional department by the book. SPD received accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) in March 2001, and through RIPAC in October 2013.

Smithfield was the second agency to achieve RIPAC accreditation after the Rhode Island State Police.

St. Sauveur, a RIPAC member, said RIPAC accreditation is a roadmap to earning CALEA status. He explained that Rhode Island police officers created RIPAC to help agencies that did not have the staffing or funds to take a step towards CALEA accreditation.

Accredited agencies have more structure and accountability, providing employees with more guidance with increased expectations, St. Sauveur said. At SPD, employees know what is supposed to be done because there is a written directive with ramifications for failing to act accordingly, he said.

“In our case, agencies like Smithfield, the State Police, Warwick, Cranston and Bristol are producing a more professional agency,” he said.

As the chief puts it, there are two ways to run a police department: flying by the seat of your pants while hoping for the best, or following a plan consisting of industry standards.

“By following the roadmap, you are doing what is best for your employees, while proving accountability to the community you serve,” he said.

St. Sauveur said what stands out about his staff of 60 is that it works harder than most to attain accredited status through RIPAC. To maintain both, St. Sauveur said employees worked with “extra focus, extra time, and extra effort.”

“This is challenging, but we’re always up for a challenge. That’s why we became police officers in the first place,” he said.

St. Sauveur said one of the department’s greatest strengths is its community policing programs, including the annual trick-or-treat parade, the 5th-grade ice skating party, the buckle-up shuffle, Christmas gift shop-with-a-cop, the police explorer program, citizens academies and female self-defense programs.

St. Sauveur said during COVID-19, as nationwide some are calling for cuts in funding to police, SPD is receiving “overwhelming support” from the community.

“The only way to explain this is, they take care of us because we take care of them,” he said. “And following the accreditation roadmap helps us to do all the right things necessary for us to take care of them.”

The RIPAC accreditation process renews every three years, one year shorter than the CALEA cycle.

Town Manager Randy Rossi said the town is fortunate to have a professional agency such as the Smithfield Police Department that is focused on providing the best services for residents.