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Jackson Police Department draws praise
Doug Austin lives in Cape Girardeau, but he made sure he was in Jackson on Monday afternoon to express his appreciation for the city's police department.
The secretary of Seniors and Lawmen Together was among five people who participated in a public comment session as part of the Jackson Police Department's triennial accreditation assessment.
"Chief [James] Humphreys and his team of professionals are what I call visible and measurable," Austin said. "They are a service-oriented team of professionals."
He said the department reaches out to children through its annual Christmas toy drive and to older adults through special programs and its involvement with SALT.
"They maintain a great, great connection between the senior citizens and the Jackson Police Department. ... Jackson Police Department recognizes the need to continually give back to their community," Austin said.
Jackson Mayor Barbara Lohr echoed that, telling assessors she often sees off-duty officers coaching youth sports and doing other volunteer work.
"Our police department does a lot of volunteering in our community, just outside of anything associated with the police department," she said. " ... That's the kind of attitude and the type of demeanor that the folks that are on our police department always show."
Scott Bowen, one of two assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, said all the feedback he heard Monday, both in person and by telephone, reflected well on the department.
"Everything so far here has been extremely positive. ... All in all, Jackson's got a lot to be proud of with their police department," said Bowen, who is chief of police in Lebanon, Tenn.
Bowen and Noah Hetrick, deputy chief of the Bowling Green, Ohio, Police Department, spent Sunday and Monday checking the department's compliance with 188 standards that cover everything from use of force to promotion and selection policies.
After they leave today, they will share their findings with the commission, which will decide whether to renew Jackson's accreditation after a hearing in July.
"We're the eyes and ears of the commission," Bowen said.
The department benefits from having those eyes and ears on it, Humphreys said.
"We are doing everything we can to be the best we can, and going by nationally accepted practices is something I'm very proud of," he said.
The department attained its initial accreditation in 2008 and must go through a compliance audit every three years to maintain it, Humphreys said.
"There's a lot of benefits to it," he said.
For instance, Bowen said, insurance studies have shown being accredited reduces departments' liability.
Humphreys said that translates to lower insurance rates for the city.
Accreditation also can be a point of pride for the community, he said, and the process gives police a chance to talk shop with officers from other areas.
"When they're not working, we're down there swapping ideas and talking like cops do," Humphreys said.