'No easy feat': Trumbull police earn prestigious certification

TRUMBULL — For the first time in its history, the Trumbull Police Department has achieved Tier 1 accreditation from the Police Officer Standards Training Council.

Chief Michael Lombardo called the rating “a great achievement” and said the department was looking forward to achieving Tier 2 certification in the future.

“Attaining Tier 1 accreditation status is no easy feat,” he said. “Standards must be met, but proof of utilizing them is required also.”

Tier 1 is the first of three stages and required the department to meet 143 commonly accepted standards of law enforcement practices in areas such as liability, safety, ethics and training. The process can take years.

According to POST, the certification is intended to “enhance the professionalism of Connecticut Law Enforcement agencies through voluntary compliance with contemporary, internationally recognized standards of excellence.”

Tier 1 includes mostly standards designed to reduce the department’s liability exposure while enhancing public confidence in their municipal police. The POST website lists 10 departments in Connecticut as Tier 1 certified, including Shelton, Westport and Wilton.

In addition to officers always having two-way communication, some standards include evidence handling, management of juveniles, use-of-force, hiring and promotion practices, and more.

The standards say this about evidence:

“The importance of proper evidence and property control cannot be overemphasized: it is essential to effective law enforcement and has significant potential to expose the agency to civil liability,” according to the assessment standards.

The standards for the department’s holding facility is mandated in detail, with 24 directives that the assessors will evaluate. The standards mandate fire-retardant bedding in the holding cells, to limits on officers having weapons in proximity to prisoners, ventilation standards and storing a prisoner’s personal property, among others.

The chapter on use-of-force procedures contains seven sections, each with multiple subsections.

For example, officers may use deadly force “only when the officer reasonably believes the action is in defense of human life, including the officer’s own life, or in defense of any person in imminent danger of serious physical injury or death.”

The assessment team was composed of highly ranked state police officials. The assessors reviewed application documents and visited the Trumbull Police Department on July 20 for the inspection.

During the visit, the inspection team reviewed records, interviewed officers and staff and inspected the entire building to ensure compliance. Following their inspection, the assessors reported their findings to the POST Council. On Sept. 10, the council approved the certification.

During the three-year certification, Trumbull police are required to submit annual reports detailing their continued compliance to Tier 1 standards.

During the process, Lt. Douglas Smith served as the accreditation coordinator. His responsibilities included developing and implementing new policies, and instituting procedures to ensure compliance. He also implemented new software that allowed the department to create and distribute policies and training documents to all members of the force and also allowed the department to demonstrate compliance with state standards.

Trumbull police are now working to achieve Tier 2 status, which includes an additional 83 standards.