JMU Police Department Earns Professional Accreditation
The James Madison University Police Department is one of only four university police departments in the state to be accredited by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission.
The accreditation signifies that JMU police have met the highest standards for law enforcement practices in Virginia. Only 85 of the more than 400 municipal police and sheriff's departments in the commonwealth currently hold the distinction.
JMU Chief of Police Lee Shifflett was recognized for the department's achievement at the university's Board of Visitors meeting on Jan. 6.
The initial accreditation process began in December 2008. "It takes six months just to rewrite your policies and procedures, and then you have to get all of your people trained on them," Shifflett said.
Over three days last summer, members of the Virginia Law Enforcement Accreditation Coalition conducted an on-site assessment of the department's policies, procedures, processes and operations. Out of 187 standards of professionalism, only four minor corrections were noted.
Shifflett said the accreditation does not change how the department approaches public safety on campus. "It simply lets the public know that an outside agency has judged that we have met a series of standards — not campus police standards, but (Virginia) Department of Criminal Justice standards," he said. "We do the same thing that municipal police departments and sheriff's departments do, and then a lot more."
"What accreditation does for any agency is it shows that they've gone the extra step to make sure that their law enforcement officers are doing the kinds of things you should be doing," added Mike Layman, the department's accreditation manager.
The department will be reassessed by the state every four years and must provide proofs of compliance for each calendar year.
JMU's 43 commissioned police officers serve a population of more than 20,000 students, faculty and staff. The department has jurisdiction over 700-plus acres and assists the Harrisonburg Police Department with enforcement of student housing areas adjacent to campus. Full-time officers are assigned to a patrol unit, an investigative/forensic unit or a support services unit.
The JMU Police Department's new seal features the Duke Dog with the words "Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission" and "Accredited Agency" across the bottom. The logo will appear on all police vehicles and correspondence as well as on the Department of Public Safety website.
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Jan. 17, 2012