Representatives from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. are coming to Drexel University June 4 for a voluntary accreditation inspection of the Drexel Police Department, Drexel’s Department of Public Safety announced Thursday.
The announcement came from DPS Senior Associate Vice President Domenic Ceccanecchio, who said the process is a voluntary means of getting CALEA accreditation, a well-respected recognition.
Ceccanecchio described the dual certification process, which Drexel is undertaking, seeking CALEA accreditation for both the law enforcement and communications divisions of the Drexel Police Department.
“We decided to go for both of these accreditations at the last minute, which is pretty unusual from what I’ve been told,” Ceccanecchio said.
However, according to Ceccanecchio, the process for attaining the CALEA certification has been in the making for two years. He said Drexel’s police procedure directives were written based on CALEA’s standards.
“[CALEA has the] best practices of law enforcement and communication,” Ceccanecchio said.
The accreditation process consists of an on-site assessment where CALEA assessors will sift through police files and complete on-campus tours and ride-alongs with Drexel police officers. They will also inspect police vehicles, weapons and facilities, Ceccanecchio noted.
Representatives from the agency will also accept comments from members of the Drexel community from 1 to 3 p.m. June 6 by calling 215-571-3596. Telephone messages are being restricted to 10 minutes and must regard Drexel’s ability to comply with CALEA standards, according to a Drexel University press release.
Ceccanecchio encouraged everyone with a comment to provide input for CALEA.
“Anyone that wants to express their opinions provide feedback to the assessors — that’s what this public forum is about. They can come in person, call or write,” he said.
He noted that of the over 1,100 police departments in the state of Pennsylvania, there are only 12 with CALEA accreditation. Ceccanecchio said he was determined to be part of that number.
“It’s pretty much a pursuit of excellence. We wanted to be recognized as a true professional law enforcement agency and we thought that this was a good way to do that,” he said.
According to the press release, in order to attain accreditation, Drexel will have to comply with 218 CALEA standards and procedures. Working with CALEA program manager Karen B. Shepard, Ceccanecchio and the Drexel Police Department are striving to accomplish this.
“For us it’s been a learning process, because we wanted to make sure we were doing things the right way. We’ve been looking at best practices in law enforcement and communication, making sure that we’re structuring our directives to achieve that,” Ceccanecchio said.
Ceccanecchio explained that on Drexel’s end there are two employees spearheading the accreditation process. Statis Skoufalos, the accreditation manager and Joseph Spera, Director of Operations are acting as the primary contacts for the Department of Public Safety, striving towards law enforcement accreditation.
After CALEA completes its assessment, agency representatives will decide if Drexel will receive accredited status, according to Shepard. After this the Drexel Police Department will “keep our fingers crossed and pray,” Ceccanecchio said.
Accreditation status lasts for three years, during which Drexel must complete yearly reports stating that it is in compliance with the standards and practices of CALEA. Ceccanecchio said that if the University attains accreditation, the police department will seek it again in three years.
“Once we get accredited, the process starts all over again,” he said, noting that it is an ultimate goal of the University to be considered a Flagship organization.
Organizations that receive accreditation multiple times gain Flagship status.
Written comments regarding Drexel’s eligibility for CALEA accreditation can be sent to: Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement, Inc., 13575 Heathcote Boulevard, Suite 320, Gainesville, VA 20155.