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Accreditation Program, Itself, to Face Assessment Under New Director

By Jerry Murphy, IACLEA director of professional services

As IACLEA’s first full-time Accreditation Program director, I am excited to work with all of the member institutions. I’m grateful to Jack Leonard—who managed the program for 14 years—for helping me with the transition, and I hope to provide the same level of attentive service and guidance that Jack did. Speaking for the entire IACLEA staff, we wish Jack all the best in his well-deserved retirement.

Over the past two years, IACLEA has appointed a full-time executive director and hired full-time staff to focus exclusively on providing services for members and running the organization’s administrative functions. The appointment of a full-time director of professional services continues the effort to expand and enhance IACLEA programs. I’m honored to have been selected to lead IACLEA’s prestigious Accreditation Program and look forward to working with the Accreditation Commission.

Fifty-three agencies are IACLEA accredited, with 24 of those agencies jointly accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Another 49 agencies are working toward accreditation, as applicants or candidates.

IACLEA’s goal over the next few years is to increase substantially the number of accredited agencies. A first step to achieving that goal is to examine all aspects of the Accreditation Program to identify what works well and what needs improvement. Our initial focus will be on five key program elements:

  1. Internal Management Systems
  2. Promotion of the Accreditation Program
  3. Agency Preparation for Accreditation
  4. The On-Site Assessment
  5. Maintaining Agency Accreditation

Internal Management

As we grow the program it is essential that our internal systems be efficient, effective, and responsive to agency needs. IACLEA staff will look for opportunities to implement new database and task management software programs to accurately track information about agencies and assessors. This will enable us to respond quickly to agency requests for information and guidance.

Promotion of the Accreditation Program

IACLEA staff will review the Accreditation brochure and web pages to ensure that they compellingly present the program and answer basic questions about program benefits and the steps in the process.  In addition, we will develop a plan for promoting the program in new ways and to varied audiences, with the goal of spreading the word about the value of the accreditation distinction.=

Agency Preparation for Accreditation

Currently, agencies have up to three years to prepare for the on-site assessment.  Upon entering the program, no two agencies are at the same level of preparedness for accreditation.  The diversity of IACLEA member agencies and the variation in agency written directive systems mean that some agencies require only minimal work to demonstrate compliance with standards while other agencies may be faced with the dual challenge of developing a comprehensive written directive system and demonstrating compliance to standards. A successful preparation requires agencies to ask the following four questions:

  • Is our agency and institution leadership committed to accreditation?
  • Does our agency have a written directive system in place?
  • Does our agency have the systems to make accreditation a normal part of doing business?
  • Is our team prepared for the challenge?

To help agencies affirmatively answer these questions, IACLEA staff will develop a resource toolkit focused on the dual challenge of developing internal administrative systems and demonstrating compliance to standards.

The On-Site Assessment

The on-site assessment represents the culmination of every agency’s hard work, and a successful assessment should be one that acknowledges, recognizes, and even celebrates that hard work.

IACLEA staff will explore every opportunity to ensure that each on-site assessment achieves that goal, including working with agencies to be prepared, providing assessors with training and resources, and matching assessors to agencies based on size and function.

Maintaining Agency Accreditation

The accreditation term is now four years, having recently changed from three years. However, some agencies indicate that the extra year has added challenges to remaining accredited, to the point where agencies have withdrawn from the program. IACLEA staff will work with agencies to identify the challenges a four-year term presents and then explore options to help agencies meet those challenges. Some possible solutions could include providing agencies with guidance and assistance to mesh administrative systems to facilitate updating policies and proofs of compliance, or conducting a desk audit of standards at some point in that four-year term.

These are just some of the possible approaches staff and the Accreditation Commission are exploring to expand and enhance the IACLEA Accreditation Program. As I learn more about the program and have the opportunity to engage with chief executives and accreditation managers, I expect to learn about additional challenges as well as the steps agencies have taken to remain successfully accredited.  I invite every IACLEA member to contact me directly at or 202-618-4545 to share your experiences and insights about how the Accreditation Program can be a valuable part of every agency’s quest to provide the highest quality law enforcement, security, and public safety services to campuses.

Baylor University Police Department Chief Brad Wigtil believes it’s worth POINTING OUT that his agency has achieved initial IACLEA Accreditation. Sergeant Andrew Huntington, accreditation manager, looks pretty pleased, too. Photo by©Mike Ritter 2018


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