Texas A&M police have joined eight other university police departments in Texas with accreditation from a national authority that sets standards for law enforcement.
"It means we have voluntarily become part of this accreditation process and are committed to following best practices and being very transparent for our community," Chief Mike Ragan said of the department's achievement announced during the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies' fall conference in Albuquerque on Nov. 22.
The CALEA credential holds the department accountable for its actions through standardized policies and a system of checks and balances in line with law enforcement agencies across the country, said Lt. Allan Baron, public information officer. Among those best practices are annual use-of-force analyses and recruiting standards.
The credentialing process for A&M police began almost five years ago with Chief Elmer Schneider but the effort was renewed last year when Ragan was appointed chief.
With support from Texas A&M's Assistant Vice President for Safety and Security Chris Meyer, the agency hired an accreditation manager with experience at the Bryan and College Station police departments, both of which are CALEA accredited, to assist with the department-wide effort.
Ragan said former chiefs Bob Wiatt and Schneider built the foundation "for us to be a very good department" before the official credentialing process began. A recent assessment "affirmed what we knew and pointed out areas that needed improvements but those were not unreasonable or out of reach," Ragan said of any changes made in the process of achieving accreditation.
In August, a CALEA assessment team, made up of a former California State-Fullerton police chief and a representative of Virginia Tech police, visited the police department, reviewed reports and manuals, took part in a ride-along and conducted interviews to determine if A&M police met more than 180 standards necessary for initial law enforcement accreditation by the commission consisting of four major law enforcement organizations -- the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, the National Sheriff's Association and the Police Executive Research Forum.
Eight other university police departments in the state -- including five University of Texas campus departments, University of North Texas police and University of Houston-Clear Lake police -- are also CALEA accredited. All credentialed agencies are required to submit annual reports verifying their compliance with the commission's standards and must reapply for accreditation every three years.