The UTMB Police Department in November joined an elite group of law enforcement agencies nationwide by becoming “Accredited” by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Less than 3 percent of all local, state and federal agencies in the United States have achieved the CALEA mark of distinction. In Texas, 30 police organizations have been accredited.
Earning accreditation was a nearly three-year process for UTMB’s Police Department. The organization had first to earn “Recognized” status after fully meeting 102 national standards from the 5th Edition of the Standards for Law Enforcement Agencies. UTMB-PD earned “Recognized” status in November, 2011. In order to step up to full “Accreditation”, the Police Department had to maintain compliance with all of the initial 102 standards while meeting the requirements of an additional 86 standards. Compliance with the standards was assessed by a team of two licensed CALEA assessors during a site visit in early September of this year.
The rigorous standards set forth by CALEA address a diversity of issues, including: life, health and safety issues; legal and other critical requirements; and conditions that reduce major risk and high-liability exposures. Each standard required UTMB to develop written directives that met specific, detailed criteria and then assemble written documentation of compliance.
According to Police Chief Thomas E. Engells, the men and women of the UTMB Police Department eagerly pursued CALEA Recognition and Accreditation. “We believe we serve one of the nation’s finest academic institutions deserving of a nationally recognized police organization,” he said. “And CALEA Accreditation is the gold standard in policing and in public safety.”
Chief Engells also noted that University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., established a system-wide goal for all UT Police Departments to become CALEA-accredited. He thanked everyone on the force for helping earn this prestigious designation, with “special appreciation offered to Terry Hughes, Accreditation Manager for UTMB Police, who coordinated all aspects of this effort for the department.”
CALEA was established in 1979 as an independent accrediting authority and soon thereafter implemented its Law Enforcement Accreditation Program to address a need to enhance law enforcement as a profession and to improve law enforcement service delivery. Today, CALEA programs are open to all types of law enforcement agencies, on an international basis, and they provide specific standards to support law enforcement agencies functioning in the college/university environment. CALEA Accreditation is viewed as a key tool in:
- Providing the necessary reports and analyses a CEO needs to make fact-based, informed management decisions.
- Ensuring that a preparedness program is in place—so an agency is ready to address natural or man-made unusual occurrences.
- Developing or improving upon an agency’s relationship with the community.
- Strengthening an agency’s accountability, both within the agency and the community, through a continuum of standards that clearly define authority, performance, and responsibilities.
- Limiting an agency’s liability and risk exposure because it demonstrates that internationally recognized standards for law enforcement have been met, as verified by a team of independent outside CALEA-trained assessors.
- And in facilitating an agency’s pursuit of professional excellence.