Public comment sought for police accreditation

Public comment sought for police accreditation

.Layla, one of two K-9s joining the University Police Department, searches for explosives around a car outside of Memorial Stadium prior to the April 15 spring game. The dogs are trained for bomb detection, finding evidence at crime scenes and tracking individuals. They will not be used for drug detection, apprehension or crowd control.
Troy Fedderson | University Communication
Layla, one of two University Police Department K-9s, on patrol outside Memorial Stadium prior to the April 15 spring game.

The University Police Department is seeking re-accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

A team of assessors from the commission will begin on Nov. 12 an onsite examination of all aspects of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln's police department policies and procedures, management, operations, and support services.

As part of the assessment, a public information session will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 14 at the Gaughan Multicultural Center, Room 202 (Ubuntu Room). The session is open to the entire campus community.

Individuals may also provide comments to the assessment team by telephone from 3 to 5 p.m. Nov. 13. The calls will be received on an unrecorded line to help ensure confidentiality. To leave a comment via phone, call 402-472-0234.

Owen Yardley
Chief Owen Yardley

Comments made during the public session or phone are limited to 10 minutes. All comments must address the police department’s ability to comply with commission standards.

Written comments about the department’s ability to meet commission standards can be sent to the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement, 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainesville, Virginia, 20155.

The university police department first earned accreditation with the commission in 2015.

The commission is an independent accrediting authority created in 1979 by four top law enforcement membership associations: International Association of Police Chiefs, National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Sheriffs' Association and the Police Executive Research Forum. The purpose of the commission is to improve law enforcement service through a national set of standards.

Nationwide, only about 2.5 percent of campus law enforcement agencies and 4 percent of public safety agencies have gained accredited status through the commission. Nebraska agencies to earn the status include Lincoln and Omaha police departments, Nebraska State Patrol and the Lincoln 911 Center.

Police Chief Owen Yardley said the university department must comply with almost 200 standards to gain accredited status.

“It is important that we use best practices and continually reassess our procedures to be the best department and resource that we can,” Yardley said. “Sustained accreditation is a process that will allow us to recognize our strengths and strive for continued improvement.”

The assessment will be conducted by two professional assessors assigned by the commission. The team will be led by Thomas Johnson, retired chief of police for the Western Carolina University Police Department. He will be assisted by Thomas Nesko, a retired Air Force veteran with more than 18 years of commission accreditation experience.

The assessment will be sent to the full commission to determine if reaccreditation is granted. If approved, the accreditation will be for four years, during which an agency must submit annual reports attesting to continued compliance with commission standards.

Michael Maas, compliance/accreditation manager for the university police, oversees the accreditation process for the university.

For more information about the commission, send email to calea@calea.org or call 703-352-4225.