Lantern file photo
The Ohio State University Police is working toward an accreditation process that will lend the department national recognition.
Assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) came Sunday to make sure University Police was following the 188 required standards, and a public information session was held in Blankenship Hall on Monday. If the application is approved, CALEA’s board of commissioners will hand out the certification in August, said Deputy Chief Richard Morman of University Police. The certification will last three years, after which it would have to be renewed.
“There’s academic type of accreditation for the university, the hospital is accredited,” Morman said. “CALEA is an accreditation body geared toward law enforcement.”
Morman said he first heard of the accreditation process in the ’90s when he was looking for ways to revamp some policies and procedures, and OSU has paid $8,400 as part of the process.
“I proposed it to the chief back in the day, (but) it is very time-consuming,” he said. “It causes you to really do an internal review of your organization … You have to meet a certain amount of standards, and your policies and procedures must cause you to meet those standards.”
Morman said he proposed the application to three police chiefs in the 27 years he has served at OSU, and University Police Chief Paul Denton agreed.
“Chief Paul Denton came from an agency, the Columbus (Division of) Police, that is accredited,” Morman said. “He understood the value of accreditation and agreed that it was definitely worthwhile to pursue.”
Christie Goddard, a regional program manager of CALEA in Gainesville, Va., said CALEA was formed in 1979 to make law enforcement more professional.
“Basically, at that time in history in the United States … they were going through a lot of times where they were trying to establish professionalism in policing, similar to what they were doing in education and health care,” she said.
CALEA is the only international and national accrediting body for law enforcement and public safety institutions, Goddard said, and was formed by the “four leading law enforcement authorities” – the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the Police Executive Research Forum.
“We have what we consider to be the standards that are the best practices in the industry,” Goddard said.
The value of accreditation is that it gives a department national recognition, Morman said.
He also said it is “good for our community.” Before applying for accreditation, he said, University Police already fulfilled most requirements.
“We were in pretty good shape to start with,” Morman said. “There were a few things that we didn’t really have a policy on, based on their standards … so that caused us to continually improve.”
Morman said the CALEA has certain requirements but leaves many aspects to the agency that is applying.
CALEA requires certified agencies to prove they are following the set guidelines, said Adam Tabor, the officer in charge of training and CALEA compliance.
“Some of the standards are left open for quite a bit of interpretation,” he said. “Like for example, a standard might say, ‘Your agency must have a policy governing vehicle pursuits’ … So there’s not a lot of specifics … so it leaves your agency open to create your own policy. And then how you prove that you’re performing to that standard is, you show your policy … and then you have to prove that you’re following your own policy.”
Tabor said proof can come in forms such as photographs, videos or audio recordings.
Tabor said even though CALEA has been around for decades, not many organizations have enrolled. He said as far as he knew, about 5 percent of agencies are accredited.
When he received the go-ahead to apply for accreditation, Morman said he went to Kent State University Police Chief John Peach because Kent State had been accredited for 15 years at the time.
“(He told me) the great thing on accreditation is the fact that when somebody says, ‘Why does your police agency do this?’ And you say, ‘Well we follow these nationally accepted standards’ … so it’s nice that you have that, when somebody challenges you,” Morman said.
Matthew Blancett, a fourth-year in history who has worked in airport security and has dealt with law enforcement in the past, said he thinks University Police does a good job overall.
“If the police department feels that it’s necessary to make us safer, I’d rather have them do it than not do it,” he said. “Also, it’s maybe a way to make sure that they’re doing their jobs.”