February 4, 2009

Seal of Approval

Tufts Police Department joins elite group with recent accreditation

By Marjorie Howard

The Tufts University Police Department has earned accreditation for the second time from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission, making it one of just 28 police agencies out of 400 across the state to achieve this status. Only two other campus police departments, at Northeastern University and Mount Holyoke College, have earned accreditation.

John King, director of Public and Environmental Safety, says accreditation means a department is in compliance with some 280 standards involving managing and running a law enforcement agency that are developed by the accreditation commission. The standards include policies on emergency response, planning, training and communications.

Accreditation, King says, is not mandatory, but Tufts chose to apply for several reasons. “It has a favorable impact on the reputation of our department,” he says, noting that being examined by independent assessors results in credibility for the department’s policies and procedures. It also provides for a high level of accountability.

In addition, he says, “If you have standards in place and actually practice them, the agency is less likely to make mistakes or be open to liability.”

The department first received accreditation in 2005, though planning for that initial review took more than five years. “It’s a monumental effort, frankly,” King says, adding that it takes a major commitment of resources. The commission will make a follow-up visit to the department in 18 months, and another accreditation effort will take place in three years.

King gave credit to all the members of the staff for passing this milestone, and especially the accreditation managers, Assistant Director Ron Brevard, Captain Linda O’Brien and James Anderson, the training and accreditation coordinator.

Marjorie Howard can be reached at marjorie.howard@tufts.edu.

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