Franklin & Marshall College's Department of Public Safety (DPS) remains one of just a handful of campus police departments in Pennsylvania that is fully accredited, following the latest in-depth review of the department’s organization, management, procedures, facilities and operations by the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission (PLEAC) of the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.
Comprised of 19 full-time sworn police officers, four full-time security officers, four full-time dispatchers and an administrative assistant working under the direction of Chief William McHale, DPS received its first formal, three-year accreditation from PLEAC in 2011. It is one of only five higher education police departments in Pennsylvania so recognized, the others being situated at Carnegie Mellon University, Duquesne University and Point Park University, all in Pittsburgh, and Lehigh University in Bethlehem.
A team of PLEAC assessors spent two days on campus in March evaluating anew the department’s compliance with the accreditation program’s 135 professional standards including selection of employees, training and career development, allocation and distribution of personnel, and policies regarding use of force.
F&M requires that all of its officers and supervisors be certified under Pennsylvania Act 120, which mandates graduation from a municipal police academy approved by the Pennsylvania Municipal Police Education and Training Commission. In Pennsylvania, such certification requires a minimum of 750 hours of training — the same training that is required for all municipal police officers throughout the Commonwealth.
In addition to scrutinizing documents detailing the department’s law enforcement functions from patrol procedures to traffic control to property and evidence handling, the assessment team met and interacted with various department personnel. All were found “professional and knowledgeable about their assigned duties.” The assessors also examined the DPS communications center, records room, evidence room and temporary detention area, as well as one of its four fully equipped marked patrol vehicles, determining that the department benefits from “modern equipment and procedures” that “ensure compliance with best police practices.”
Further characterizing DPS as a well organized, trained, and effective agency dedicated to delivering high quality service to the college community, the assessment team recommended “without reservation” that DPS be granted reaccreditation. On April 2, the 22 PLEAC members voted unanimously to extend accreditation for another three years.
“This is a very significant achievement, and the entire campus community should take pride in knowing that we have a well trained and professional Department of Public Safety here at F&M,” McHale said.
In many cases, institutions that have accredited police departments realize lower costs for insurance premiums and increased protection against lawsuits and citizen complaints.
Accreditation also tends to enhance morale and a commitment to professional law enforcement among officers while strengthening community relations and cooperative ties with other police agencies.
"The members of our Department of Public Safety have proved they hold themselves to a high standard, above and beyond the standard requirements of a police department," said Vice President for Finance and Administration David Proulx. "The assessors were very complimentary in their consideration of our request for re-accreditation, and that is a direct reflection on the quality of DPS personnel. I congratulate Chief McHale and his team on this great accomplishment."