As we enter the holiday season together I feel inclined to reach out to the people of Federal Way. I am in the privileged position of speaking for the entire police department, the dutiful men and women who respond to your calls for service, investigate your cases, maintain our records, manage evidence, provide other important services, including volunteer to make this city better. I hope you already know this, but sometimes it should be said out loud, and this is a good season for that: It is our pleasure to serve and protect you!
The cornerstone of policing in America is public trust. As law enforcement leaders and professionals, we know that having the support and trust of our community is absolutely essential. The dedicated, highly trained, and diverse police professionals who are responsible for helping our community thrive are fully aware of this. We want to ensure that we continue our efforts to facilitate a positive and active relationship with the members of our community, you who are our most important ally and resource in keeping Federal Way safe and secure.
There is something else I want to you know about your local police department. Given the challenges of and need for accountability in policing, in 1979 the international Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in conjunction with the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA), the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), launched an initiative that would develop and propagate common standards within the law enforcement profession.
This effort resulted in the development of CALEA, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. CALEA has been a heavy influencer in the law enforcement profession for nearly four decades. CALEA established best practices for the field. Accreditation formalizes an external review of practices and procedures by objective third-party professionals, with a collective focus on continuous improvement for agencies that elect to participate. Participation is difficult and it is entirely voluntary. The accreditation process includes several mechanisms of citizen influence, an essential element of policing in the United States.
There are approximately 17,895 law enforcement agencies in the United States. Only 3.5 percent of them are nationally accredited by CALEA. In the state of Washington there are 281 incorporated municipalities, 39 counties, and one state police agency. Seven of those 321 governments can claim their police force is nationally accredited. The Federal Way Police Department is and remains one of the seven, nationally accredited since 2003, now accredited at the highest possible level of “excellence,” the gold standard, which represents an even smaller percentage of this nation’s police departments.
The Federal Way Police Department’s dedication to protecting our community includes the commitment to holding ourselves accountable to the highest professional standards and continually working to improve our department. Our national accreditation is an important, visible element of that commitment, demonstrating that this police department is among the leaders in policing in the region. As an organization, we are very proud of this accomplishment.
This achievement does not mean we are perfect, neither as individuals nor as an organization. But it does mean, in spite of what you might see or hear, there are checks and balances in place and the people of Federal Way are in good hands. The process of accreditation helps us be accountable to one another and our community, for the advancement and safety of all.
We have a complex responsibility. Quite often, law enforcement deals only with the most extreme and advanced parts of social issues. Regarding our staff, much like individuals who choose to serve in the military, police officers and civilian staff enter the profession because they chose to live lives of service and honor. Despite the dangers of the job (physically and emotionally, as well as politically), our officers put on the uniform every day and go out to serve and protect you, just as they have done every day for the last 22 years. What’s amazing to me is our people continue to press on in spite of personal risks and the scrutiny that they face.
I speak for all of the men and women of the Federal Way Police Department when I say that we are proud to be part of the Federal Way community. We commit to continue working hard to provide the people of Federal Way with the highest level of police service possible, and work toward strengthening our relationships with all people and stakeholders of our community.
We wish you and your loved ones a happy and safe holiday season. It is an honor for us to serve you!
Andy J. Hwang
Chief of Police