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BUPD Nears End of Accreditation Process

Department standards modeled to match those of federal agencies

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BUPD officer Din Jenkins and Benjamin Arnold (CAS’12) at a campus event designed to promote safe bicycling practices. Photo by Vernon Doucette

The Boston University Police Department is approaching the end of its journey towards accreditation, an official recognition that its standards match those of federal police agencies. Representatives from the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission made their inspections on May 10 and 11 and will determine in the near future if the department should be accredited. Once the BUPD is certified, recertification is necessary every three years.

Over the past year, the BUPD has been making changes in almost every aspect of equipment and procedure to meet the roughly 350 standards that define a federal-level force. “A lot of the improvement occurs when you’re attempting to meet these standards, and once you’re accredited it becomes more of a maintenance issue,” says Detective Lieutenant Peter DiDomenica. “The hardest part is that first year.”

DiDomenica says required modifications affect a wide range of department operations, from the structure of the facility to policies and procedures. “We had a system for evidence and property control that was adequate,” he says. “But it relied on some technology that was dated. This afforded us the opportunity to bring aboard some of the state-of-the-art technology that’s out there.”

Three assessors visited the department for the two-day inspection. “They kick the tires and lift the hood,” says Police Chief Thomas Robbins. “Of course you’re apprehensive because you’re letting somebody behind the curtain.” Robbins says the inspectors spent half a day on a walk-through around the facilities and all over campus, with checks on alarm systems, prisoner holding areas, the communication center, and evidence storage. The rest of the time was spent examining policy and procedure and checking adherence to department policies.

Each of the 350 prescribed standards has its own set of substandards, so by DiDomenica’s estimate, there were almost 1,000 requirements to follow overall. Anything that couldn’t be fixed on the day of the examination was considered a “repair,” and in the end, the BUPD was penalized with only three repairs.

“I’ve got to hand it to Peter DiDomenica and Jack St. Hilaire,” says Robbins. “We were well-prepared. When the inspectors came in, they said this was really one of the best prepared departments they’d seen.” With the assessment done, the information and submitted corrections are being processed. If BUPD makes the grade, there will be a ceremony in September awarding the accreditation certificate.

“Students won’t notice anything different,” says Robbins. “But they’ll know they have a really professionally well-trained department running public safety.”

Nicole Shelby can be reached at nicolelshelby@gmail.com.

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