By HANNAH GALEONE
After eighteen months of hard work, organization and dedication to the field, the University of Mary Washington Police Department was rewarded for their efforts.
In early July 2018, the University’s Police Department received a letter telling them they would be the 100th agency in the Commonwealth to become accredited by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission (VLEPSC). According to the Bureau of Justice Services, there are 340 agencies within the state, only 29 percent of which are accredited — the UMW Police Department falling into that percentile.
This is the first time in UMW’s history that the campus police department has become accredited, according to a release posted to EagleEye.
“[Becoming accredited] recognizes you as a professional law enforcement agency,” said UMW accreditation manager Lieutenant Bill Gill.
“[This is] a huge accomplishment that goes to the commitment of the whole department,” UMW Police Chief Michael Hall said in the release posted on EagleEye.
In order to become an accredited agency, the University’s Police Department must comply with all standards set by the VLEPSC. These standards are compartmentalized into five main categories that the VLEPSC accounts for in their accreditation analysis. The categories considered are administrative, investigation, patrol, evidence and training. Within these five categories, there are 192 standards –broken into 600 subsets — that must be met.
Additionally, every member of the UMW Police Department undergoes rigorous training, ranging from sexual assault training, weapons handling, and lost property and evidence collection. The training is another aspect of an agency that is assessed by the VLEPSC before accreditation.
“We did this in about eighteen months,” said Lieutenant Gill. “We went from having around 30 procedures in our manual to approximately 100. We had to have all of our policies and procedures in place before we could start the assessment process.”
During the accreditation process, the UMW Police Department became the fifth university agency to become accredited. The accreditation speaks to the transparency of the agency as well as the agency’s dedication to the fields of safety and security.
“[The accreditation] validates what we say we’re doing,” said Chief Hall.
“We’re stepping up to be compared to our counterparts. It’s total different law enforcement than traditional law enforcement but we want to be held to the same standards and accountability that those other 99 agencies in Virginia are,” said Chief Hall.
“[Becoming accredited] recognizes you as a professional law enforcement agency,” said Lieutenant Gill.
As the supervisor of accreditation, Lieutenant Gill strives to maintain all policies and procedures as closely as possible. The [accreditation] process is a continuous cycle, and for the UMW Police Department to hold their accreditation they must continue to comply with all standards set by the VLEPSC.
“My goal is, in 4 years, to have 100 percent compliance to the policies,” said Lieutenant Gill.
“We want to build this department to be the best that it can be,” said Chief Hall. “[The accreditation] gives us the ability to be profitable in what we do, from a professional standpoint.”
University President Troy Paino expressed his pride toward the UMW Police Department.
“I’m very proud [of them]. I think it shows a major commitment from our police and our police chief,” said President Paino. “[The UMW PD] protect me and my family. I live on campus, Brompton is part of our property.”
President Paino expressed his understanding that, as prospective students and parents research universities, safety is one of the key characteristics of campus life that is taken into account.
“My chief concern is the safety and well being of our students. To know that [the UMW PD] have gotten through that process and to know that they’ve been deemed of the quality is very important to me,” added President Paino.
The University Police Department’s next VLEPSC accreditation assessment will be in September 2022.