ST. GEORGE — The Dixie State University Board of Trustees and administration honored campus police for successfully completing the Utah Law Enforcement Professional Standards Accreditation Program on Friday.
Earlier this year, the Dixie State University Department of Public Safety became the only campus law enforcement agency in Utah to earn accreditation through the program. The department is also one of seven agencies overall in the state to be accredited.
Police Chief Blair Barfuss said Dixie State has been looking forward to establishing a professional and accredited police department for over a year. Accreditation was a specific goal outlined in the department’s five-year strategic plan.
“It happened sooner than planned, but we’re happy with our progress,” he said.
Barfuss said the accreditation holds the department to a higher standard while letting the community know they are exceeding expectations to offer a safe environment for students and the community. He said the notoriety of being one of the first law enforcement agencies accredited through the program also pushes officers to refine skills and improve overall.
The department’s accreditation went into effect Sept. 19 and will be up for reaccreditation in 2024. The department’s policies and procedures, training, evidence, records and officers were independently assessed and were found to have met or exceeded the industry’s best practices.
The program is overseen by the Utah Chiefs of Police Association and is meant to create a set of standards that indicate effective and efficient operations.
The program was first created five years ago, and most agencies were waiting to apply for accreditation until they could see how it worked with other agencies. Barfuss said there are now a number of agencies signed up to begin the process or are currently working through it.
Accreditation requires a lot of work before the process can even begin, he said. Interested agencies are required to have a five-year strategic plan, financial planning and a number of other projects.
“A lot of agencies don’t feel they have the time to start the accreditation process or they don’t want to open themselves up — in that way — for review,” he said.
According to Barfuss, in order for the accreditation process to be successful, it required the “buy in” of Dixie State’s Board of Trustees and administration. The process requires a lot of transparency, he said, because the university had to open their records to a third party.
Dixie State’s police force joins six other Utah agencies as an accredited law enforcement agency, including American Fork Police Department, Logan Police Department, Spanish Fork Police Department, Orem Police Department, Draper Police Department and Mapleton Police Department.
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