BUPD Gains State Certification
One of four college departments to claim honor
Students weren’t the only people on campus to pass a tough test this month.
On May 6, the Boston University Police Department received certification from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission, placing it among only four college police departments and several dozen law enforcement agencies claiming that honor.
Certification guarantees that the department’s policies, procedures, equipment, and facilities meet or exceed state standards set by law enforcement professionals.
“This is a huge step,” says BUPD Chief Thomas Robbins. “It really intensely focuses us on our department, what we’re doing, and how we can provide a better service.”
In May 2007, Robbins says, the department requested information about the certification process from the accreditation commission. What it received in return was a dauntingly thick packet of information about state standards.
Over the course of three years, assessors evaluated the department’s equipment and facilities, such as vehicles, holding and dispatch areas, and property and evidence rooms. Sergeant Jack St. Hilaire, the department’s accreditation manager, says the commission also looked at a range of policies and procedures, from the department’s use of force and internal affairs to its management of sexual harassment cases and criminal investigations.
“In essence, they not only wanted to see if our equipment, facilities, policies, and procedures met standards,” St. Hilaire says, “but that we also ‘practiced what we preach.’”
Robbins agrees: “They look soup-to-nuts through everything.”
During that time, the department revamped its policy manual (dating back to 1997) and made several technological upgrades, including improvements to the dispatch and holding area and the interview room.
“We were ahead of the curve with improvements to our technology,” says St. Hilaire, citing a new bar code tracking system that allows officers to find and store evidence more efficiently.
Robbins says that the department managed the upgrades without requesting any additional funds — the changes came from the yearly budget.
The BUPD already has its eyes on the next prize — accreditation, the ultimate recognition from the commission and one that involves a deeper and broader review. Robbins estimates that it will take the department another year to meet the additional standards for this final step.
For now, a wooden plaque in the headquarters’ entryway announces the BUPD’s latest accomplishment.6 Comments