College Police Department receives accreditation

police-accreditation

In June 2012, the Marietta College Police Department set its sights on becoming an accredited agency through the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) — a first for Marietta.

The commitment meant that the department would have to work to comply with 203 standards identified by the accrediting body. On Dec. 10, Chief Jim Weaver learned that, after a year of working on these standards, the Marietta College Police Department has reached its goal.

“This new accomplishment makes the Marietta College Police Department the first agency in Ohio to be accredited by IACLEA,” Weaver says. More than 1,200 colleges and universities from 20 countries are institutional members of the IACLEA, with about 2,000 law enforcement staff, criminal justice faculty and municipal chiefs of police retaining individual memberships. The accreditation lasts for four years and the department must submit annual reports that verify its continuing compliance to IACLEA’s standards.

In a letter notifying the department of its accreditation, IACLEA President and Director of Public Safety at Rider University Vickie Weaver commended the department for “demonstrating a commitment to the highest professional practices in campus public safety management, administration, operations and support services.”

The criteria set by IACLEA are broken down into 17 chapters, Weaver says.

“The standards require things such as checking emergency call boxes on a monthly basis, checking generators on a monthly basis, doing weekly officer inspections, and standards for every aspect of our jobs,” Weaver says. “The standards go into great detail for every section including standards for where a prisoner is to sit in the cruiser when being transported by an officer. We chose to completely rewrite our policy manual when we began to ensure we were following the gold standards identified by IACLEA.”

Once the department addressed each aspect of the audit, another agency conducted mock assessment. Maj. Cleveland Smith from Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, Md., conducted the evaluation to help prepare the department for the on-site assessment, which took place in November.

“We had two assessors, Assistant Chief Robert Fey from Ball State University and Lt. Preston Oldham from Wake Forest University, come to campus to conduct the on-site assessment,” Weaver says. “Both are their agencies Accreditation Managers as well.”

Fey and Oldham examined files on record, conducted interviews with members of Student Senate, Student Life, Health and Wellness, and students who filed reports with the department. In addition to going on “ride-alongs” with the officers, they also met with the Marietta City Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office.

After conducting an exit interview and completing their report, the assessors presented a comprehensive written report to the IACLEA Accreditation Commission, the governing body for the process.

Jack Leonard, Director of Accreditation and LEMAP Services for IACLEA, says member agencies that sign a contract to pursue accreditation are given 36 months to complete the self-assessment process, which includes writing or revising directives that address all of the applicable standards, instituting practices that are compliant with the standards, and collecting and compiling documentation proving the agency’s compliance with the standards. 

“Generally, agencies require two years to complete the process. Some departments will use the full three-year period and, occasionally, agencies have requested extensions to the self-assessment period. It is rare that accreditation is awarded within 18 months of signing the contract,” Leonard says. “The fact that the Marietta College Police Department succeeded in 14 months is a testament to their commitment, dedication and industry.”

Weaver is proud of the amount of progress the department has been able to accomplish in the past year and looks forward to finding more ways to better serve and protect the campus community.

“The reason why I got into law enforcement was to help people,” Weaver says. “This accreditation ensures we will exceed at doing just that.”