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Released April 8, 2005

PUSH FOR HIGHER STANDARDS WINS RECOGNITION
FOR SOUTHERN MISS POLICE DEPARTMENT

Hattiesburg– The desire to better protect and serve students has landed The University of Southern Mississippi's Police Department a recognition award from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA).

The recognition accreditation status, which is a stepping-stone for smaller law enforcement agencies seeking full accreditation, was awarded to University Police on March 19 in Birmingham, Ala.

The ceremony was the culmination of the department's two-year campaign to become a bigger force within the university community.

"We need to keep up with the times," said University Police Chief Bob Hopkins. "We need to keep up with our training, polices and procedures and our professionalism."

Hopkins said the benefits of the accreditation status are already visible as the certification has boosted funding, morale and the department's ability to ensure students a safe environment.

"It's going to let them know that the police department that serves them is committed to providing the best service we possibly can," he said.

Augmented policies and procedures are not only protecting students, but are also providing a better shield for the university by preventing frivolous lawsuits and complaints, according to Accreditation Manager Allyson Wilson.

Wilson spent the past two years rewriting and creating policies to place the department in line with CALEA's standards.

The adopted procedures were put to the test in December 2004, when a group of assessors from accredited organizations across the country visited the department. Through a series of interviews and an inspection of the facility, the group determined that the department was worthy of an accreditation recommendation to CALEA.

"We came away from there with a very good report from the assessors," Hopkins said. "In fact, we passed the onsite visit with flying colors."

Both Hopkins and Wilson believe they could not have gotten the green light without the support of the administration, which authorized nearly $50,000 in expenditures for bulletproof vests, video surveillance and other much-needed equipment to bring the department up to CALEA's standards.

While the department's recognition accreditation status remains in effect for the next three years, Hopkins said he and his crew will continue to look for ways to make things better.

For more information on services provided by University Police, please contact Chief Bob Hopkins at (601) 266- 4947.

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April 19, 2005 1:10 PM