October 25, 2014  

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Southern Miss Police Department Prepares for Accreditation Visit

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The University of Southern Mississippi Police Department will have its policies and procedures examined by a team of assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA®), on Monday, Oct. 31.

According to Southern Miss Chief of Police Robert N. Hopkins, the group will also review the department’s management, operations and support services as part of the accreditation process.

“Verification by the team that University Police meets the commission’s state-of-the-art standards is part of a voluntary process to gain accreditation – a highly-prized recognition of public safety professional excellence,” said Hopkins.

As part of the on-site assessment, agency personnel and members of the community are invited to offer comments at a public information session on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 5 p.m.  in Room “A” of the R.C. Cook Student Union on the Hattiesburg campus. 

Should an individual be unable to attend the public information session but would still like to provide comments to the assessment team, he or she may do so by telephone. The public may call 601-266-6254 on Nov. 1, from 3-5 p.m. 

Telephone comments, as well as appearances at the public information session, are limited to 10 minutes and must address the agency’s ability to comply with CALEA® standards. A copy of the standards is available at the University Police Department in Bond Hall, first floor northwest, No. 103 Black and Gold Boulevard. The local contact is Capt. Charles Chandler, at 601-266-6254.

Anyone wishing to submit written comments about the University of Southern Mississippi Police Department’s ability to comply with the standards for accreditation should send them to the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA ®), 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainesville, VA 20155 or www.calea.org.

The University of Southern Mississippi Police Department must comply with 189 standards in order to gain accredited status, said Hopkins. “Accreditation is a public recognition of the hard work and dedication of all our UPD employees, whatever their position,” he said.

Karen Shepard serves as the CALEA program manager for the University of Southern Mississippi Police Department. She noted that the assessment team is composed of public safety practitioners from similar, but out-of-state, agencies. The assessors will review written materials, interview individuals and visit offices and other locations where compliance can be witnessed.

The assessors include the following:

  • Team Leader: Chief Paul Willingham, University of Houston – Clear Lake Police Department
  • Team Member: Lieutenant Stephen Slaughter, Largo Police Department, Largo, Florida

“Once the CALEA assessors complete their review of the agency, they report back to the full commission, which will then decide if the agency is to be granted accredited status,” said Shepard. 

Accreditation is for three years, during which the agency must submit annual reports attesting continued compliance with those standards under which it was initially accredited.