University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Police Department
On January 26, 2012, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Police Department was 53rd in the state to receive state Certification from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission and is one of only four universities in the state to be certified by the Commission.
Certification is a self-initiated evaluation process by which police departments strive to meet and maintain standards that have been established for the profession, by the profession. These carefully selected standards reflect critical areas of police management, operations, and technical support activities. They cover areas such as policy development, emergency response planning, training, communications, property and evidence handling, use of force, vehicular pursuit, prisoner transportation and holding facilities. The program not only sets standards for the law enforcement profession, but also for the delivery of police services to the citizens of the commonwealth.
“Achieving Certification from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission is considered a very significant accomplishment and is a recognition that is highly regarded by the law enforcement community,” said Donna Taylor Mooers, the Commission’s Executive Director.”
Under the leadership of Chief / Director of Public Safety Emil Fioravanti, the University of Massachusetts Police Department was assessed in December 2011 by a team of Commission-appointed assessors.
“Going through the process initially requires intense self-scrutiny, and ultimately provides a quality assurance review of the agency,” said Mooers. To conduct this self-assessment and prepare for the on-site review of the 159 standards by the Commission, in 2011, Chief Fioravanti appointed Officer Kristin Costa to serve as the Department’s Accreditation Manager. While happy that the Department has become a certified agency, the Department’s job is not done. Chief Fioravanti’s ultimate goal for the Department is to achieve the Commission’s highest award, Accreditation, within the year.
Certification has been granted for a period of three years. Participation in the program is strictly voluntary.
COMPOSITION OF THE COMMISSION
The Commission consists of an eleven member Board of Directors. Six members are appointed by the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association, two by the Coalition of Accreditation Managers of Massachusetts, one by the Massachusetts Municipal Association and one by the Massachusetts Police Association. The eleventh member is left for the Board to elect and that member must be affiliated with an academic institution. According to Mooers, “the Commission’s primary role is to establish and administer both the standards and the assessment process by which departments meeting certification standards can be publicly recognized for their achievements.”
Massachusetts is one of twenty-four states that offer an accreditation process for its police departments.
BENEFITS OF CERTIFICATION
The standards for certification impact officer and public safety, address high liability/risk management issues, and promote operational efficiency throughout the agency. The benefits of Certification are therefore many and will vary among participating departments based on the state of the department when it enters the process. In other words, the benefits will be better known when the department quantifies the changes that it had to make as a direct result of achieving certification. Generally, these changes involve policy writing, facility improvements and equipment purchases. Listed below are some of the more common benefits.
· provides a norm for an agency to judge its performance.
· provides a basis to correct deficiencies before they become public problems.
· requires agencies to commit policies and procedures to writing.
· promotes accountability among agency personnel and the evenhanded application of policies.
· provides a means of independent evaluation of agency operations.
· minimizes an agency’s exposure to liability, builds a stronger defense against lawsuits, and has the potential to reduce liability insurance costs.
· enhances the reputation of the agency and increases the public’s confidence in it.
Mooers added, “Police Certification and Accreditation work to reassure the general public that the law enforcement profession is prepared, trained and ready to handle future emergencies and calls for service. Agency preparedness begins with having a formal and current Written Directive System that incorporates best business practices into agency policies and operational plans.”
Questions may be directed towards Chief / Director of Public Safety Emil Fioravanti.