Penn State Police accredited by independent law enforcement commission

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Police received accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. (CALEA) after an in-depth review and demonstration that the department meets the external standards for policies and practices.

CALEA is an independent, nonprofit credentialing agency. This is the first time Penn State applied for and received the accreditation, which only 3 percent of law enforcement agencies in the country complete. It is the primary method for an agency to voluntarily demonstrate its commitment to excellence in law enforcement. The accreditation was awarded during a ceremony Saturday, Nov. 21.

“It is affirming to see that we are meeting not only our own criteria for operations, but those set by an independent national agency,” said David Gray, senior vice president for Finance and Business. “Police perform a critical role within our community, and we continue to look for ways to assess how we’re doing and where we can learn from our peers. By achieving this accreditation, our department has shown its commitment to maintaining the highest standards in law enforcement and safety.”

As part of the four-year accreditation process, Penn State Police developed written guidelines, policies and procedures to show how it meets the 189 standards outlined by CALEA. Those standards cover all areas of police procedures, such as processes for issuing traffic violations and responding to incidents, administrative policies on hiring and use of force, and whether equipment is up-to-date and complies with the best practices guidelines.

Bill Moerschbacher, assistant chief of police and accreditation manager, said the University was committed to going through the multi-step process, which brings in outside experts to ensure best practices for modern police management are being followed.

“Going through this review was part of our continuous improvement of policies and procedures,” Moerschbacher said. “It means having someone from the outside take a look at what you’re doing and verify that you’re going in the right direction.”

In addition to developing written guidelines that show the University following best practices, the accreditation process included an initial preliminary assessment in 2014 when a team from CALEA visited the University, reviewed the policies and procedures and toured the stations. That included a public forum in which members of the Penn State community spoke to the assessors about their views of the department.

Finally, a formal three-day, on-site assessment took place in June 2015, during which CALEA representatives talked to employees with University Police, the Office of Physical Plant, Environmental Health and Safety and the Office of Student Conduct, and the State College Police Department. In addition to interviews, the process included reviews of the University’s written policies and procedures and a tour of the facilities and equipment.

Police Chief Tyrone Parham said that along with providing a management model for agency administration, the process improves operations, produces better-trained public safety personnel and promotes greater accountability.

“The CALEA accreditation process has elevated our standards so we are able to maintain the highest level of service to the Penn State community,” Parham said. “We were evaluated by independent assessors who assessed our protocols against the highest standards in law enforcement. Accreditation assures continuous assessment for future continuity in the ever-growing field of law enforcement.”

The accreditation will last four years, during which Penn State Police will submit annual reports for review by CALEA. Moerschbacher said the University plans to continue to seek re-accreditation in the future.

Last Updated December 04, 2015