The University Police Department has moved from in the Office of Finance and Support Services after an initial review from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.
Though the full review will not be available until late September or early October, one of the initial recommendations of the peer review was to move oversight of the department from the Student Affairs office to Finance and Support Services, Vice President for Student Affairs Joanne Smith said.
“Basically, part of the review was to look at the structure, and whether the reporting structure was aligned given that our university is as large and complex as it is, and related to issues of public safety in general as it relates to emergency management, risk management, those kinds of things,” Smith said.
The transition means UPD will now report to Vice President of Finance and Support Services Eric Algoe, who had a similar role administratively at Florida State University and also oversaw FSUPD’s accreditation through IACLEA. The idea behind the transition, according to Algoe, is to have more of the various offices involved in public safety at large under the same leadership umbrella.
“Most of those things are already under Finance and Support services, the police department was not,” Algoe said. “We’ve noticed over the last few years that there have been a few times where the level of communication and cooperation between those departments were not where they should be at times.”
The administration is also gearing toward IACLEA accreditation of the department, Algoe said. The transition will help him and the police department ensure they are following the industry’s standard best practice guidelines.
“The concept of accreditation is really at the core of American higher education. The university itself has to be accredited,” Algoe said. “Many, if not most of the colleges, have to be accredited. In essence, these are peer-based evaluation criteria that define what it is to be professional and be at the top of your game.”
IACLEA’s form of accreditation is also specific to university police departments, as university police departments are different from local or state departments. Throughout the multi-year practice, administrators and the department at large will have the opportunity to go through each practice and procedure to ensure they follow best practice guidelines, Interim Chief of Police Captain Ricky Lattie said.
“To become accredited, you establish that you are following some best practice guidelines,” Lattie said. “It’s a lengthy process, it normally takes a couple of years to complete. Like all audits, it’s just a chance to make sure you’re doing things as well as possible.”
Lattie served as the interim chief of police when Ralph Meyer retired in 2016, and since his start at UPD, Lattie said the department transitioned departmental oversight four times moving from the since-removed executive vice president to the university attorney, to the dean of students, to Student Affairs, and now to the Office of Finance and Support Services.
“There are going to be some issues with moving over,” Lattie said. “It’s taking a lot of our time and a lot of paperwork to get it through. This was just based on recommendations from our peer review. They thought we should probably be under a different reporting line than we are now. I think we were doing fairly well under student affairs and I think we’ll do well under Finance and Support Services.”
The search committee for a new police chief plans to post the job description of the university police chief by late September or early October and will use the information collected by IACLEA administrators to tailor the job description to the university’s needs. The committee, which Algoe and Dean of Students Margarita Arellano will chair, will also have help from Spelman and Johnson, a higher education leadership search firm with experience hiring campus law enforcement leadership officers.
Spelman and Johnson is also an active member of IACLEA and has a proprietary database that contains contact information for more than 5,000 campus law enforcement professionals, according to their website.
The University Star will continue to update information on the search for a new Chief of Police as information becomes available.