The Augusta Police Department has earned accreditation from the Maine Law Enforcement (MLE) Accreditation Program.

The extensive program is a voluntary process for police agencies to prove their compliance with MLE’s current best practices or standards. The APD is one of eight departments in the state to earn the honor, according to a news release from the City of Augusta.

The APD met all 162 standards needed to earn the accreditation. The list of standards was developed by MLE professionals to assist agencies in the efficient and effective delivery of service and the protection of an individual’s rights. The Maine Chiefs of Police Association developed the program to assist  agencies in meeting their professional obligations to state citizens.

“There were a lot of people involved in making this happen. This is such a humbling experience for any police department to go through because you think you are doing it right. I thought we’ve done it right for 20 years, it’s not that we weren’t, but there are always ways to do it better,” said Jared Mills, Augusta’s chief of police, according to the release.

The APD started working towards this accreditation more than a year ago under Chief Robert Gregoire, before his retirement. Mills mentioned several key staff members who played key roles in earning the accreditation, including retired Staff Sgt. Christian Behr, Lt. Chris Massey, Staff Sgt. Jesse Brann, Officer Christopher Hutchings and Administrative Assistant Dolores Steverman-Daoust.

The department worked together to meet the standards to earn the accreditation. The standards cover all aspects of law enforcement operations including use of force, protection of citizen rights, pursuits, property and evidence management, and patrol and investigative operations.

The APD excelled in many categories, including record keeping. This was noted during the review process because the department has limited space in a facility built in 1949. The department moved into the location as a temporary home in 1998 and has been there ever since.

Later this month, the City Council will consider a $20.47 million, 30-year bond for the cost of building a station closer to downtown Augusta.

In addition to the accreditation, the City Council presented Mills and the entire department a administrative award of merit March 18.

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