Marquette City Police Department recognized with state accreditation

Marquette Police Chief Blake Rieboldt speaks at the podium during Monday’s Marquette City Commission meeting while Marquette City Police Department members look on. The police department was recognized at the meeting as the first Upper Peninsula police department to receive accreditation from the Michigan Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission. Officials from the accreditation commission came to officially present the police department with the certificate of accreditation during the meeting. (Journal photo by Cecilia Brown)

MARQUETTE — The Marquette City Police Department was recognized at Monday’s Marquette City Commission meeting as the first Upper Peninsula police department to receive accreditation from the Michigan Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission, as officials from the state commission came to officially present the department with the certificate.

“It is a true honor to have achieved this status, and we look forward to continuing to develop and provide the best service that we can to our community,” Marquette Police Chief Blake Rieboldt said.

The Marquette City Police Department is now one of 16 departments in the state to complete the voluntary accreditation process, which is significant, officials said, as there are over 600 total police agencies in Michigan.

“Your department has attained what 97% of the other departments in the state of Michigan have not achieved at this point in time,” Michigan Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission Executive Director Robert Stevenson said. “It’s a significant accomplishment.”

The accreditation program, which aims to “raise the delivery of police services and the professionalism of the police profession around the state,” began relatively recently, with the first agency accreditation under the commission occurring in 2017, Stevenson said.

Marquette’s accreditation comes after years of hard work, officials said, as the department was inspected by a team of assessors in December to ensure it was in compliance with 105 standards — and 444 proofs of compliance for the 105 standards — that were set by the commission as requirements for accreditation.

“Your agency had to prove that the written directives followed the standards, and they had to prove that they were following the written directives; and they had to prove that to outsiders,” said Neal Rossow, accreditation program manager for the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police.

The Marquette department began preparing for the accreditation process in summer 2017, with Lt. Ryan Grim and Lt. Mark Wuori leading the process as accreditation managers. While the department had already been in compliance with many of the standards, the accreditation preparation process involved further development and refinement of policies, procedures and documents that laid out specific courses of actions and responsibilities for given situations, they said.

“This has been a two-year journey for our department. Our accreditation managers, Ryan Grim and Mark Wuori, have been working with staff over the last two years to achieve the accreditation status,” Rieboldt said. “And after two years, this is a culmination of everybody’s efforts. Whether they participated directly or indirectly, every member of our department has participated in this process.”

The support of the entire department made the complex accreditation process possible in this amount of time, Grim and Wuori said.

“If it wasn’t for all of our officers embracing the program, it would have taken us a lot longer,” Grim said. “They were all supportive, they all want to be the best police officers that we can be and provide the best service that we can provide to the public and this just reassures us that we’re doing things right. And that feels good.”

Wuori and Grim are grateful to Rieboldt for supporting them throughout the project, they said.

“We thank the chief for letting us work on a project of this magnitude,” Wuori said. “It made us better, it made our department better, we can serve the community better.”

However, the receipt of the accreditation isn’t the end of the road, officials said, as the department needs to demonstrate its continued compliance. The accreditation, which was officially awarded in February, is valid for three years, but the department must submit a report each year until then that shows continued compliance to the standards under which the agency was initially accredited.

“We’re going to continually get better,” Grim said. “Even after this, it’s going to keep evolving us and to ensure … that we’re providing the most professional and best service that we can provide.”

In the meantime, Wuori and Grim are staying busy getting ready for the annual report due next year — and serving as a resource to other agencies going through the accreditation process.

“We’re helping other agencies in the area that are either looking into it or are actually in the program right now to,” Grim said, adding he encourages any interested agency to reach out to himself or Wuori for any help or advice.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.