VUPD earns accreditation from CALEA for third time

The Vanderbilt University Police Department has earned accreditation from CALEA for the third time. (Vanderbilt University)

The Vanderbilt University Police Department has been awarded accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. for the third time. CALEA accreditation serves as the international gold standard for public safety agencies and is the primary way for an agency to voluntarily demonstrate its commitment to excellence in law enforcement.

VUPD earned its initial CALEA accreditation in 2009 and reaccreditation in 2012 through the organization’s standard accreditation assessment. With its most recent reaccreditation effective Nov. 21, 2015, Vanderbilt becomes the first university police agency in Tennessee to be granted Gold Standard national accreditation through CALEA. The organization introduced its Gold Standard Assessment in 2011. In addition, VUPD was recognized with the Accreditation with Excellence Award for 2015.

The purpose of CALEA accreditation is to improve the delivery of public safety services primarily by maintaining a body of standards developed by public safety practitioners, establishing and administering an accreditation process, and recognizing professional excellence.

The CALEA accreditation and reaccreditation processes are lengthy. They begin with a rigorous self-assessment requiring a review of policies, practices and processes against internationally accepted public safety standards, followed by an independent assessment by those with significant public safety experience. Public feedback is solicited to promote community trust and engagement, and structured interviews are conducted with select agency personnel and others with knowledge to assess the agency’s effectiveness and overall service delivery capacities. The decision to accredit or reaccredit is rendered by a governing body of 21 commissioners following a public hearing and review of all reporting documentation. Once accredited, an agency must maintain compliance throughout the three-year accreditation award cycle.

One of Tennessee’s larger law enforcement agencies, VUPD provides comprehensive law enforcement and security services to all components of Vanderbilt, including the university campus, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a variety of Vanderbilt-owned facilities throughout the Davidson County area, including Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks.

Through a memorandum of understanding with the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, Vanderbilt officers with special police commissions have the same authority as that of municipal law enforcement officers while on property owned by Vanderbilt, on adjacent public streets and sidewalks, and in nearby neighborhoods.

CALEA was created in 1979 as a credentialing authority through the joint efforts of law enforcement’s major executive associations: the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the National Sheriffs’ Association, and the Police Executive Research Forum.