After last spring's intense, five-day operational review of the University Police, departmental accreditation for the force has been delayed until spring of next year.
The Penn Police underwent the review to evaluate their compliance with the Commission for Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies' 361 rules and standards.
In the end, the University of Pennsylvania Police Department came up in violation of just one, pushing their accreditation back months and forcing University Police Chief Maureen Rush to travel to Chicago to get a waiver for the rule.
CALEA requires that all police departments have a single telephone number to be called in case of emergency. UPPD, however, has two -- 511 when someone is calling from an on-campus site, and 215-573-3333 when the caller is off-campus.
"We need the 511 for on-campus. We need the 573-3333 for off-campus," Rush said before heading to Chicago to deliver her request. "It's an important issue for us."
Last Friday, Rush traveled to Chicago to request a waiver to the rule, testifying before CALEA to the University community's need for the two different phone numbers.
And, in the end, the commission agreed, voting unanimously to waive the Penn Police's violation of the rule and allow them to keep both numbers.
Rush said that if the commission had denied their waiver request, the department would have foregone accreditation to keep both numbers.
"Obviously we were going to choose to serve the community best," she said.
While this means that the Penn Police probably won't complete the accreditation process until March -- months after its originally date of July -- Rush said that the delay didn't upset her, emphasizing that the process is more important than receiving the final seal of approval.
"This does not affect the big picture," she said. "The reason you go through accreditation is to put your shop in order. And we're there."
Rush also said that the commission still wanted to evaluate several new initiatives that the force had just recently launched, noting that the commission wanted to make sure that the force followed through passed the initial planning stages of an initiative.
The national recognition received through accreditation -- a standing only 26 other university police departments have reached -- gives departments better liability insurance rates and legal protection in the case of lawsuits.
The police departments of Brown and Georgetown universities, as well as the Pennsylvania state police and the police force of the Philadelphia Housing Authority, are also accredited. Large forces like the Philadelphia Police Department are rarely accredited, however.
But Rush said that the most important aspect of accreditation was that it helped the department and its more than 100 officers become a better, more efficient force. The 21-year-old CALEA tries to encourage increased professionalism in policing through the accreditation process.
Last April and May, officials from the commission met with the department's officers, scrutinized UPPD records and observing procedures to make sure the force was in compliance with CALEA rules and regulations.
As part of their review, CALEA officials participated in a ride-along in Penn Police vehicles one night. The UPPD also shut down part of Chestnut Street to show the commission its assorted police vehicles, and assembled its uniformed officers as a testament to the depth of their department.
The five-day review culminated in a town-hall meeting with the community and Philadelphia Police Chief John Timoney. About a dozen students, community members and officials attended the meeting.Comments powered by Disqus
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