The UMW Police Department has become only the fifth campus police agency in the commonwealth to achieve accreditation from the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission (VLEPSC), the accrediting agency in Virginia.
The milestone is also a first in the history of UMW Police.
Out of 340 police agencies in the commonwealth–campus departments or otherwise–only 100 have attained VLEPSC accreditation.
“Achieving accreditation was a major milestone,” UMW Police Chief Mike Hall said. “However, our primary responsibility to the community is ensuring a safe environment for everyone. When community members feel safe, their ability to learn and dream becomes a reality.”
Hall made accreditation his mission when he took the helm of the department four years ago. The voluntary process enhances the quality of service and credibility of law enforcement agencies, he said.
Hall credits the commitment of the entire department, and especially UMW Police Lt. Gill and Sgt. Borders, who served as accreditation manager and assistant accreditation manager, respectively.
The two put in countless hours during the 18-month process, during which independent examiners reviewed UMW Police’s policies and procedures against a list of best practices and industry standards, according to Hall. They then reviewed examples of the department’s service to determine if those policies were actually being followed.
The commission has more than 190 standards divided into more than 600 requirements.
Accreditation is another way to create openness, trust and transparency in police operations, Hall said. “It puts you under the spotlight in today’s society when trust is frayed at times in law enforcement.”
Privacy laws often restrict the public’s ability to scrutinize police operations. But accreditation assessors can legally access information not available to the public, reassuring the community that the police force meets the highest levels of professionalism.
“This is just our way of letting faculty know we respect what you’ve done to become accredited, and we’ve stepped our game up, too. If you guys are going to do it and be held accountable to outside audits, we’re going to do it, too,” Hall said.