Public Safety earns re-accreditation acknowledging standards, procedures

By Steven Viera, News Editor ||

F&M’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) received re-accrediation from the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accrediation Commission (PLEAC). By Krissy Montville ’14

F&M’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) recently received re-accreditation from the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission (PLEAC) of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association. The re-accreditation comes after an exhaustive review of DPS’ operational procedures and standards.

PLEAC first accredited DPS in 2011, making DPS one of five higher education police departments— along with Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University, Point Park University, and Lehigh University— to be so accredited, out of the more than 80 college police departments in Pennsylvania. However, after three years, organizations are required to reapply and show they have continued to follow the guidelines and principles PLEAC sets forth.

“There’s over 350 standards you have to comply with,” said Anne Schuman, a DPS officer who made many of the preparations for re-accreditation. “So you have to show two proofs per year for each of those standards.”

During its examination, PLEAC looks at a department’s legal mandates and procedures, its organizational management, its facilities, as well as other criteria. To prove that DPS upholds these and other factors, Schuman and Dennis Walters, DPS’ lieutenant, reviewed reports made by DPS officers about their operations.

“It’s through our reports that the officers write,” Schuman said. “[For example], that they double-lock the handcuffs and check their fit. So, the officer will write that in their report, so, that way, we can prove that’s what they did.”

According to William McHale, director of DPS, another step that DPS takes that PLEAC does not consider for its accreditation is certification under Act 120, which requires officers to graduate from a municipal police academy approved by the Pennsylvania Municipal Police Education and Training Commission, and which all municipal police officers have. F&M requires all DPS officers to have Act 120 certification, which necessitates that they complete at least 750 hours of training. DPS officers also have Act 235 certification, which allows them to carry certain items, such as batons.

In late March, PLEAC sent representatives to DPS for the re-accreditation inspection. The representatives reviewed documents relating to DPS’ procedures, spoke with officers, toured all areas of the police station, and examined the four fully equipped, marked vehicles.

“It’s a thorough review; it’s not just paperwork,” McHale said. “It’s the qualifications of the officers, it’s the layout of the police department, it’s the review of the command system. Basically, it’s a top-to-bottom review— it’s a thorough review— and we actually came out exceptionally.”

On April 2, PLEAC voted unanimously to extend DPS’ accreditation for three more years based on their procedures, performance, and
standards.

“I continue to be amazed by the quality of the staff we have here, and it’s important that the campus knows that we have a well-staffed, well-maintained, well-trained Department of Public Safety staff that’s here to ensure their safety,” McHale said. “I’m very proud of that.”

Sophomore Steven Viera is the News Editor. His email is sviera@fandm.edu.

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