Agency tests UPD for recertification

An outside accrediting agency will evaluate the University Police Department this December to determine if the department will again earn the agency’s seal of approval.

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies will visit campus and conduct town halls with the community while also reviewing UPD’s records from the past three years. It last reaccredited UPD in 2009 after initially certifying the department with its three-year approval in 2006.

“[Police departments] get a real comprehensive review of things that are going on in their organization and a measure of their compliance and effectiveness as it relates to those issues,” W. Craig Hartley, Jr., the commission’s deputy director and chief of staff, said.

The international credentialing authority tests law enforcement agencies against about 480 different standards, touching on topics from training, to personnel, to hiring practices and use-of-force policies.

UPD Chief Kevin Hay said five separate police forces from the region checked his department’s files as part of a mock assessment in August, including units from St. Mary’s County, Md., the University of Baltimore and retired Metro Transit Police personnel.

Police units that seek out his group’s compliance certification subject themselves to strict scrutiny they would not otherwise face, Hartley said. The process also “gives assurance to the community that their police force is providing the services that they’re sworn and obligated to provide.”

Nationwide, 51 campus police forces are CALEA-accredited. UPD and the U.S. Capitol Police are the only D.C. police departments with the certification, according to the commission’s website.

“Going through the CALEA process is really an agency’s effort to be as transparent as they possibly can,” he said. “It’s a big deal.”

Hartley added that though UPD has gone through accreditation twice, some law enforcement agencies have slipped in and out of compliance between different assessments.

“We’re hopeful that we’ll get the green light to get reaccreditation,” Hay said. “I think it’s going to be smooth sailing.”

Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies representatives will visit campus from Dec. 10 to 13 for its on-site evaluations of UPD, when it will also hold a public comment session.

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