Calera Police Department to contract with Lexipol

Published 6:05 pm Wednesday, October 18, 2023

By DONALD MOTTERN | Staff Writer

CALERA – The Calera City Council voted unanimously to supply funds to the Calera Police Department in order for them to contract with Lexipol during a regularly scheduled city council meeting on Monday, Oct. 16.

The vote followed a presentation from Police Chief David Hyche, who brought the proposal to the council and endorsed the partnership.

“At the end of July, I went to the Chiefs of Police Conference at Orange Beach and the speaker was the founder of Lexipol,” Hyche said. “While I was in there, I wrote down several things that concerned me and the more he spoke the more concerned I got. He talked about a lot of the cases where cities and police departments have been sued because of their policy.”

Police Departments, as well as other municipal services, are often at risk, not simply because of the way a policy may be written or enacted, but also because of the way that policies are revised or rendered out-of-date due to changes in law. All of which, can affect the policy’s applicability and legality when administered to the staff.

“I’ve looked through our policy, and it’s a patchwork,” Hyche said. “I believe that our policies have been written internally, and there’s a real problem with policies that are written internally. If (the city or department) is sued and we write our own policies, it shows a bias.”

According to Hyche, a policy that is written internally and then subsequently approved by the city attorney and the City Council can carry with it an argument of bias that would not serve the city’s case well should it ever need to defend the policy in cases stemming from either an outside party or a former employee.

Faced with that, around 5,500 police departments across the United States have already chosen to partner with Lexipol and utilize their services that offer external policy revision and training. They also offer regular updates that account for the revisions to state and federal law that occur. According to Lexipol, such revisions occur on an average of 30 times a year.

“They employ subject matter experts and attorneys who specialize in writing policy,” Hyche said. “They are state specific for us. If we contract with them to help us rewrite our policy, they will have state specific as well as federal specific policy recommendations.”

On top of rewriting current policy and providing updates that keep said revisions current, Lexipol offers online provisions and the ability to ensure that department employees are trained correctly.

“On their website there is a log-in for each employee and the employee must read the policy and understand it,” Hyche said. “They take a test and it gets verified that they understand it (the policy). There’s daily training that keeps it current.”

This training will not only protect the city against potential lawsuits and arguments but it will also ensure that the department is being accurately and correctly represented on a daily basis by those in its service.

Alabama Municipal Insurance Company (AMIC) also recommended Lexipol for the Calera Police Department as a result of Hyche’s interest in the program. AMIC implied that there was a possibility, while not a guarantee, that the city’s partnering with Lexipol could result in an insurance rate decrease.

Hyche was clear on the costs of the program but described the service and the protection that it offers as something the city and its residents should not overlook.

“It’s just under $20,000 for the first year and $15,000 for the next few years after that,” Hyche said. “It’s not cheap, but in my opinion, I think it is worth it.”

Lexipol presents statistics that claim those who contract with them on average see a financial impact of a 45 percent reduction in the frequency of litigation claims, 37 percent fewer claims overall, 48 percent reduction in the severity of claims and 67 percent lower incurred costs.

“I don’t know if that will reflect on us or not, but I honestly do believe we are in danger, right now, with the way our policies are,” Hyche said. “They’re not bad, but historically small departments would write their own policy, or they would adopt somebody else’s. We’re too big for that and too active in my opinion.”

The current plan is to have the Calera Police Department work with Lexipol on the revision of what are the 55 most vital policies. Those select policies are the ones that are most likely to result in litigation or problems, and would include such things as the department’s pursuit and use-of-force policies.

“We would immediately start rewriting the policies and the Council has to approve the policy,” Hyche said.

According to Hyche, policies will be reviewed, drafted and adopted as they are completed rather than waiting to put all of them into effect at once. As each one is completed, revisions will be sent to employees to have them complete the required trainings that ensure all are aware of the new policies.

“We’re holding ourselves accountable, more so, by doing this,” Hyche said.

The Council’s unanimous vote in favor of backing the partnership means that it will move forward at the quoted amounts from Lexipol. Details on when the revisions will begin and when they will be brought before the Council are forthcoming.