The West Tisbury police department is completing the last steps in the process of gaining accreditation from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission. If granted, it will be the first department on the Island to achieve accredited status.

Two inspectors from the commission visited the department Monday and Tuesday to evaluate whether it has fulfilled the hundreds of required standards.

“This process has made us significantly better,” said Lieut. Matt Mincone, who takes over as chief next month. “It’s also forcing us to create a record of the work we’re already doing.”

A main focus has been specifically outlining existing policies, putting practices in writing so patrolmen can always refer to documented guidelines. Some of the state commission standards, like school crossing guard rules, have been waived for the West Tisbury department because they don’t apply.

“The most important things for us have to do with safety, protection of our officers, and making sure equipment is up to industry standard,” said Lieut. Brian Lauzon, who traveled from the Natick police department this week to evaluate the town department.

Access to bulletproof vests, safety and condition of police cruisers, and communications systems and infrastructure are some examples of factors.

Inspectors checked security of private documents, evidence storage, guidance on how to use equipment and whether firearms were properly stored. They inspected the back seats of police vehicles to make sure people in custody would travel safely and wouldn’t be able to escape. They also visited the regional communications center in Edgartown.

Under the leadership of Lieutenant Mincone, the department received certification last year from the commission, which meant it satisfied more than 150 of the required standards. The lieutenant said he decided to capitalize on that momentum and move forward with the process to gain accreditation as well. He likens certification to a bachelor’s and accreditation to a master’s degree. If a department does both within a year of each other, the standards don’t have to be checked more than once in the initial process.

The inspectors spent more than 12 hours at the department this week looking for areas of improvement.

“We always will find something,” said Lieutenant Lauzon. “We always make recommendations for ways the department should go. It’s a collaboration.”

Some necessary changes include updating policies to specify the frequency of equipment inspection as well as conducting an annual review of the department’s membership in the Martha’s Vineyard Drug Task Force.

Lieutenant Mincone said recently West Tisbury trained a patrolman to do background checks on new candidates for jobs at the department. Previously, a detective had done the background checks, but, at the recommendation of the commission, a patrolman attended a training specifically to learn about vetting applicants.

The evaluation process also provides an opportunity for police departments to share best practices. Capt. Peter Hoerr, who traveled to the Island from Belmont for the evaluation, said he is always looking for new strategies to share with his organization back home.

“I’ve already asked Lieutenant Mincone for a copy of [West Tisbury’s] policies on investigation of identity fraud,” he said.

The accreditation commission was founded in 1996 as a state agency. It became a private nonprofit in 2004. The annual fee for agencies with fewer than 10 full-time patrolmen was $625 this year. In fiscal year 2018, 77 agencies in Massachusetts had accreditation.

The Edgartown police department and the Oak Bluffs police department have both been certified, but West Tisbury is the first department to come this far in the accreditation process.

If the West Tisbury department is accredited, it will be required to keep detailed records and undergo inspection every three years to maintain the status.

It’s also important to keep guidelines up to date as methods evolve.

“Twenty years ago, tasers weren’t around,” Lieutenant Mincone said. “As equipment evolves, you need proper guidance.”

The commission is expected to notify the department this spring of whether it has been recommended for accreditation. An official awards ceremony will follow. Lieutenant Mincone said he is confident the inspection was successful, but the work continues.

“The process for re-accreditation starts next week,” he said. “It’s a living, breathing thing. Now we’re in a constant self assessment to keep up to those standards.”