While awards and honors aren’t why the officers of the University Police Department at Alfred State do their job, they do provide a testament to the quality of safety and security that these men and women in uniform provide every day on campus. The most recent acknowledgement of this came from the New York State Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), who granted the department’s reaccreditation earlier this month.
In July, the DCJS accreditation assessors returned to Alfred State to review the University Police Department’s operations to determine if the department should be recommended for reaccreditation. After three days of evaluation, the team of assessors left stating that they would be recommending that UPD be re-accredited at the next Law Enforcement Accreditation Council meeting in September, according to Chief Matthew Heller.
On Sept. 7, Heller, Lt. Jeff Wilcox, and Lt. Kris Bianchi attended the accreditation council’s meeting in Albany, where they were delighted to learn that the department had been officially reaccredited. In addition, Wilcox received the “John Kimball O’Neil Certificate of Achievement” for his efforts as lead accreditation manager for the department.
Heller said he was “extremely proud” of the work that Wilcox, Bianchi, and all the members of the department did during the reaccreditation process.”
“It was challenging going through the process with two relatively new accreditation managers, as well as having to address the new accreditation manual requirements while simultaneously implementing a brand-new policies and procedures system that had never been evaluated by New York State’s accreditation program,” he said. “The accreditation team put in countless hours preparing for the visit and it paid off”
According DCJS statistics, 149 out of a possible 540 police agencies across New York State are accredited. A total of 12 out of 30 – or 40 percent – of SUNY Police Departments are accredited, compared to the 27.5 percent of the overall police departments across the state.
Alfred State Vice President of Student Affairs Gregory Sammons congratulated the department on it efforts, and added, “I know how many hundreds of hours went into this process, and I’m proud of what the department was able to do. The department’s accreditation helps Alfred State to make families feel safe through this third party’s affirmation that we provide professional law enforcement services for students.”
In 2012, under the leadership of then-Chief of Police Gregory Sammons, the University Police Department became the first technology college in the SUNY system to be accredited through the law enforcement accreditation program. Since then, the SUNY Chancellor’s Office has made it a priority to have all state-operated University Police Departments accredited.
The NYS Law Enforcement Accreditation Program was established as a voluntary program that would provide law enforcement agencies with a mechanism to evaluate and improve the overall effectiveness of their agency and their staff. Accreditation is formal recognition than an agency’s policies and practices meet or exceed the standards established by New York States Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS).
Accreditation is a progressive and time-proven way of helping institutions evaluate and improve their overall performance. The cornerstone of this strategy lies in the promulgation of standards containing a clear statement of professional objectives.
The accreditation program is made up of 110 different accreditation standards, which are divided into three categories. Standards in the administration section have provisions for such topics as agency organization, fiscal management, personnel practices, and records. Training standards encompass basic and in-service instruction, as well as training for supervisors and specialized or technical assignments. Operations standards deal with such critical and litigious topics as high-speed pursuits, roadblocks, patrol, and unusual occurrences.
Following the decision to participate in the accreditation program, agency administrators conduct a thorough analysis of their agency to determine how existing operations can be adapted to meet these objectives. When the procedures are in place, a team of independent professionals are assigned to the participating agency to verify that all applicable standards have been successfully implemented and are being practiced.
This is done through an on-site visit in which the assessors evaluate the agency’s adherence to the program by reviewing written policies and procedures, inspecting the records for proof of compliance, interviewing department members, and observing first-hand the operations of the department. Five years following the initial accreditation of a department, DCJS assigns assessors to return to the department to conduct a re-accreditation assessment to verify that “the agency is doing what they said they were going to do at the time of the initial accreditation,” Heller said.
Law enforcement accreditation is a method and an ongoing process to ensure that the University Police Department is in compliance with national "best practices" in policing, covering all aspects of law enforcement policies, procedures, and operations. Accreditation makes a statement to other law enforcement agencies, professions, and the university community that the University Police Department meets the highest standards of professionalism.
The NYS University Police Department at Alfred was the first law enforcement agency in New York State to go through a successful accreditation/re-accreditation assessment following the implementation of Lexipol policies and procedures.