T-Sgt. Nate Leonard, UPD Columnist
On June 14, 2012 SUNY Oneonta University Police Department (UPD) joined the relatively thin ranks of police agencies in New York State as being recognized as an accredited agency by the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Accreditation is a progressive and contemporary way of helping police agencies evaluate and improve their overall performance. It provides formal recognition that an organization meets or exceeds general expectations of quality in the field. Accreditation acknowledges the implementation of policies that are conceptually sound and operationally effective.
The New York State program became operational in 1989 and has four principle goals:
1. To increase the effectiveness and efficiency of law enforcement agencies utilizing existing personnel, equipment and facilities to the extent possible;
2. To promote increased cooperation and coordination among law enforcement agencies and other agencies of the criminal justice services;
3. To ensure the appropriate training of law enforcement personnel, and;
4. To promote public confidence.
The accreditation program is comprised of 133 standards and is divided into three categories. Standards in the administrative section have provisions for such topics as agency organization, fiscal management, personnel practices and records. Training standards encompass basic and in-service instruction, as well as training for supervisors and specialized or technical assignments. Operations standards deal with such critical and litigious topics as high-speed pursuits, roadblocks, patrol and unusual occurrences.
From April 24–26, an assessment team consisting of David Gardner, the City of Elmira’s retired Deputy Chief of Police, and Detective Lt. Edwin Brewster of the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office, conducted a site visit of the UPD. The assessment team primarily reviewed the operation of the UPD. They reviewed policies and procedures, and written documentation as well as conducted interviews and ride-a-longs as a means of determining compliance with program standards.
Gardner noted in his May 11 assessment report, “…It is obvious that implementing the policies and procedures required to achieve accredited status has been taken very seriously by all the members of the department,” as well as, “The remaining SUNY Police Departments in the early stages of the accreditation should look to SUNY Oneonta as a model in on-site preparation.” The assessment team highly recommended that the SUNY Oneonta UPD be awarded accreditation status.
With the council’s endorsement, the SUNY Oneonta UPD becomes one of only seven police agencies among the State University of New York’s four-year or doctoral colleges to achieve this status. University of Buffalo, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Cortland, University of Albany, Buffalo State College and SUNY Alfred are the others.
Moreover, the University Police joins the New York State Police and just over 120 of the 600 police agencies in the state to earn accreditation, a ratio of approximately 20 percent.
New York was the first state in the country to sponsor a law enforcement accreditation program, which provides a comprehensive blueprint for effective, professional law enforcement. Community leaders embraced the initiative from the outset and the program was immediately endorsed by leading statewide organizations of law enforcement and elected officials.