The Virginia Tech Police Department recently received its fifth consecutive re-accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Incorporated. 

Virginia Tech Police began the accreditation process in 1992, and were first accredited in 1995.

The 75-member department, which includes 51 sworn officers, is one of only 65 university police departments nationally accredited, and one of only three in the Commonwealth of Virginia to receive advanced accreditation. The accreditation program provides law enforcement and public safety agencies an opportunity to voluntarily demonstrate they are able to conform to an established set of rigorous professional standards and guidelines.

CALEA, the accrediting organization, is an independent, nonprofit organization established in 1979 to develop a set of law enforcement standards designed to improve the delivery of law enforcement services from coast to coast. The purpose of CALEA’s accreditation programs is to improve the delivery of public safety services, primarily by: maintaining a body of standards, developed by public safety practitioners, covering a wide range of up-to-date public safety initiatives; establishing and administering an accreditation process; and recognizing professional excellence.

The comprehensive list of 480 accreditation standards is designed to increase a law enforcement agency's ability to prevent and control crime, increase agency effectiveness and efficiency in delivering law enforcement services, increase cooperation and coordination with other law enforcement agencies and with other agencies of the criminal justice system, and increase citizen and employee confidence in the goals, objectives, policies, and practices of the respective agency. The standards include a chapter specific to campus law enforcement and the unique responsibilities of those agencies.

As part of the accreditation process, the Virginia Tech Police Department developed a comprehensive and uniform set of written departmental directives; established the necessary reporting procedures and analyses a CEO needs to make fact-based, informed management decisions; assured a preparedness program is in place to address natural or man-made critical incidents; and demonstrated a commitment to continually developing and improving the department's relationship with the community.

"National accreditation significantly enhances our department’s ability to provide professional law enforcement service to the university community, and to assure that we are prepared to continue our cooperative liaison with law enforcement agencies in surrounding communities," said Virginia Tech Police Chief Wendell Flinchum. "Additionally, accreditation shows the ability of our department to meet national standards for law enforcement, including campus law enforcement,” said Flinchum.

The accreditation process required the department to document its compliance with the specified standards, and subsequently participate in a final on-site review by a CALEA assessment team which occurred in August 2012. The assessment team report was reviewed at one of several regional CALEA meetings. The Virginia Tech Police Department received their fifth re-accreditation with a status of Advanced Accreditation on Nov. 17, 2012, at the CALEA conference in Jacksonville, Fla.

Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.

This article was written by Carrie Norman.
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