Virginia Tech's Police Department recently received its third consecutive re-accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Incorporated (CALEA). The 85-member department, which includes 40 sworn officers, is one of only 35 university police departments nationally accredited, and one of only three in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

The accreditation program provides law enforcement and public safety agencies an opportunity to voluntarily demonstrate that they are able to conform to an established set of rigorous professional standards and guidelines. Virginia Tech Police began the accreditation process in 1992, and were first accredited in 1995.

The comprehensive list of 459 accreditation standards is designed to increase a law enforcement agency's ability to prevent and control crime, increase agency effectiveness and efficiency in delivering law enforcement services, increase cooperation and coordination with other law enforcement agencies and with other agencies of the criminal justice system, and increase citizen and employee confidence in the goals, objectives, policies, and practices of the respective agency.

CALEA, the accrediting organization, is an independent, nonprofit organization established in 1979 to develop a set of law enforcement standards designed to improve the delivery of law enforcement services from coast to coast. Four major law enforcement associations--the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the National Sheriff's Association (NSA), the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), and the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF)--combined efforts to develop and review these standards.

As part of the accreditation process, the Virginia Tech Police Department was required to develop a comprehensive and uniform set of written departmental directives; establish the necessary reporting procedures and analyses a CEO needs to make fact-based, informed management decisions; assure that a preparedness program is in place to address natural or man-made critical incidents; and demonstrate a commitment to continually developing and improving the department's relationship with the community.

The accreditation process required the department to document its compliance with the specified standards, and subsequently participate in a final on-site review by a CALEA assessment team. The assessment team report was then reviewed at one of several regional CALEA meetings. Virginia Tech Police were notified of their third re-accreditation on Nov. 18, 2006.

"National accreditation significantly enhances our department’s ability to provide professional law enforcement service to the university community, and to assure that we are prepared to continue our cooperative liaison with law enforcement agencies in surrounding communities," said Capt. Wendell Flinchum, who led the department’s preparation for the re-accreditation process and who was recently name Chief of Police at Virginia Tech after having served for a period as the interim chief.

"Our pursuit of continued accreditation also affirms our commitment to provide the Virginia Tech family of students, faculty, and staff with the highest level of professional law enforcement services," Flinchum said. "In every area, from crime prevention to crime control, we want to assure the university and surrounding communities that we are doing our very best--on a 24/7 basis--to provide the kind of efficient, experienced, and effective service they expect and deserve."