UNL Police earn international accreditation

UNL Police earn international accreditation

Officer Eric Fischer talks with a driver during a routine traffic stop. The UNL Police Department has received accreditation after a three-year review by the Commission  on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
Troy Fedderson | University Communications
Officer Eric Fischer talks with a driver during a routine traffic stop. The UNL Police Department has received accreditation after a three-year review by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies has granted the UNL Police Department accreditation.

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. Other Big Ten university departments accredited are Ohio State, Purdue, Rutgers and Wisconsin.

UNL's three-year path to accreditation culminated in a November on-site assessment by commission officials.

"This accreditation means we are operating with the best law enforcement practices and procedures," UNL Police Chief Owen Yardley said. "Earning this honor makes us feel better about where we stand and how we are operating. It also gives our entire department a big shot of confidence."

The department's growth over the last decade in both size and public safety functions fueled the need for the accreditation, Yardley said.

"Participation in this process allows us to bring in an outside eye to measure if, as the department has grown, we have continued to follow best practices," Yardley said. "It's also a good way to recognize department strengths and identify areas for improvement."

To achieve accreditation, UNLPD met 188 commission standards, including things like how the department is structured, a review of policies and how they are followed and civic trainings.

The first two years of the process featured a self-assessment into if the department met commission standards. Michael Maas, UNLPD's compliance and accreditation manager, led the current self-assessment and future reviews.

"Once accredited, it is an ongoing process to keep everything up to date and make sure a department continues to meet the (commission) standards," Maas said. "Each agency that earns the honor must be recertified every three years."

Other steps in the process have included a complete review of UNLPD policies, procedures and equipment, and an enhancement of officer training. Additional elements of the review include UNLPD's association with local, state and federal public safety agencies.

The UNL Police Department is made up of 65 employees, including 32 officers and 12 community service officers.

For more information about the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, go to http://www.calea.org.