NYU’s Department of Public Safety is continuing to prepare for accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agency. Last winter, the department announced that it desired to become the second campus security department in the United States to be formally accredited. As of this fall, Public Safety is continuing to pursue that goal, but at this point it is still going through the extensive process of preparing to be evaluated.
CALEA accreditation involves the external evaluation of 294 aspects within the Public Safety department to ensure that each component of the department is up to CALEA’s standards. An increasing number of universities are seeking accreditation as a means of ensuring that their public safety departments are meeting each of their goals. At an institute as transparent and integrated into the city as NYU, Public Safety recognizes that campus security requires extra consideration.
“[Our department] has made significant progress in preparing for CALEA Campus Security Accreditation,” Associate Vice President of Public Safety Fountain Walker said. However, Walker explained that the vast majority of the work is involved not in being accredited, but in preparing to be evaluated. “The heavy lift is in the beginning — formalizing our policies and procedures, and developing our processes in line with internationally recognized standards.”
In March, NYU Public Safety announced a number of new internal policies within the Department’s document management system. These new policies focus largely on revising the training programs both for new and previously employed staff members.
“Training and professional development are a focus of the accreditation program and a priority for the Department,” Walker said.
However, Walker emphasized that this is a long and complex process that involves preparing for continuous assessment rather than a single evaluation.
“Accreditation is not a one-stop shop process — it is a continuous management model requiring the continuous assessment and improvement of the service we provide,” Walker said.
The Department of Public Safety made further progress in May, when it formally incorporated accreditation training as a component of annual staff training programs. Moreover, the Department of Public Safety Review Committee, which is comprised of staff from across all divisions within Public Safety, according to Walker, is currently working to draft, develop and implement further policies that would allow the department to move closer to its goal of accreditation.
While accreditation is the department’s goal, its personnel are careful to recognize that the greatest continual focus of its efforts are on keeping the student body safe, rather than merely achieving external recognition. In this sense, accreditation is merely a means to the end of protecting students, rather than an end in itself.
“Students will notice a difference in the quality of our response and greater efficiency in the services we provide the community.” Walker said.
The Department of Public Safety continues to work hard to prepare for its evaluation, but the process of preparation is extensive and involves procedural work from employees throughout the department.
“[Accreditation] is not a one-person operation, rather, a department-wide effort,” Walker said. “We collectively strive not only to meet the standards set, but to excel in the execution of our service to the NYU Community.”
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