Kilgore Police Department Chief Todd Hunter (at left) explains how KPD attained recertification of their Best Practices Recognition from the Texas Police Chief's Association, a feat accomplished by only about 100 police departments in the state of Texas. Asst. Chief Johnathan Gage holds up the certificate signifying KPD's accomplishment, at right.

At Tuesday’s city council meeting, Kilgore Police Department officers and staff were on hand to receive an official honor from Texas Police Chiefs Association, signifying the recertification of their Best Practices Recognition, a feat accomplished by only about 100 departments in the entire state of Texas.

Police Chief Todd Hunter explained how the department earned the recertification and thanked each department member for their contributions to the effort.

Max Westbrook, KPD’s coordinator with Texas Police Chiefs Association, spoke at the meeting by video conference. Westbrook is a former police chief, retired from the Austin Police Department and the office of the Texas Comptroller, who now assists KPD with their accreditation.

“I am honored this evening to represent the Texas Police Chiefs Association Best Practices Program,” Westbrook said.

“I am here this evening to present Kilgore Police Department with a certificate of re-recognition for continuing to maintain their compliance with Texas’ law enforcement Best Practices Program for the last four years.”

Westbrook explained TPCA developed the Best Practices Program several years ago. It’s a voluntary program allowing Texas police departments to prove they meet or exceed 170 different standards based on Texas law, court decisions and contemporary best practices standards defined by TPCA.

“These standards address the full range of police operations, such as use of force, protection of citizens’ rights, vehicle pursuits, evidence management and patrol and investigative operations, just to name a few,” he said.

“This program has become the new gold standard for professional law enforcement in Texas and agencies across the state are working diligently to meet these requirements.”

KPD first earned their recognized status with TPCA 12 years ago, in which they underwent a complete audit of the entire department and have since submitted annual reviews to TPCA to continue to demonstrate how they meet or exceed standards.

In December 2020, TPCA assessors spent two days with KPD, interviewing staff, inspecting facilities and ensuring compliance with standards. Their report was sent to a committee consisting of 9 active police chiefs from across Texas, who reviewed the report and unanimously voted to award recognized status to KPD.

There are over 2,700 police departments in the state of Texas, Westbrook said, and only 172 of them have reached recognized status with TPCA and only 100 of those have obtained re-recognized status.

“What does this mean for your community? The recognition program assures the city management and the citizens of Kilgore that their police department is operating in a manner that reflects the current best practices of Texas law enforcement,” he said. “It means your police department is continually striving for professional excellence. It really means your police department is one of the very best in the state of Texas.”

Following Westbrook’s presentation, the mayor, city council and all in attendance honored Chief Todd Hunter and other KPD officers and staff in attendance with a standing ovation.

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