TRUMBULL — The Trumbull Police Department is nearing the end of a four-year project to earn accreditation from the state Police Officers Standards and Training Tier 1 standards.

Accreditation essentially means that the department adheres to the highest professional standards, according to Lt. Doug Smith.

“There are about 120 different standards that we have to meet to be accredited,” Smith said. “Some of them are easy, like every officer having a two-way radio on them at all times. Others might have nine different subsections, and each one has to be documented.”

The final step in the process is March 30, when a team of assessors will visit the department to examine in detail the department’s policies and procedures.

As part of the process, members of the community are invited to offer comments. Comments should be mailed to William Tanner, 285 Preston Ave., Meriden Conn., 06450. Residents can also call 203-427-2602 or email accreditation.compliance@po.state.ct.us.

The full list of accreditation standards is available here. Should the assessors approve Trumbull’s accreditation, the certification is for three years, and the department must submit annual reports attesting continued compliance with the standards,” Smith said.

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, which is what Trumbull is attempting to achieve, 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 agency should ensure the chain of custody is maintained at all times; a system should be in place to put items under the control of the evidence/property control function once it leaves the collecting officer’s hands — a system of drop-boxes or temporary storage lockers would accomplish this requirement. All items should be packaged and labeled in a standardized and tamper-resistant manner.”

The standards for the department’s holding facility is mandated in detail, with 24 separate 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 standard then also lists the policies governing use of less lethal weapons, such as stun guns, and further covers policies on things like firing warning shots.