Accreditation tops agenda of new public safety chief

by Cindy A. Abole, Public Relations

Police chief Charles Wiley makes a point with his pen during the Monday staff briefing.

Newly appointed MUSC Department of Public Safety chief Charles Wiley has a mission: to accommodate people. He says training, communication and accreditation add up to an efficient and approachable campus police force.

Wiley started June 22. So far, he's had a busy agenda: attending meetings with officers, communicating with staff, plus planning and organizing for upcoming programs and missions.

“I feel I'm bringing a unique view to MUSC's Public Safety from a valuable outside perspective,” Wiley said, referring to the department's coverage of both MUSC and the College of Charleston campuses. “The city police has always felt akin to MUSC in terms of organization and support. This has worked out well for both of us.”

Law enforcement has always been important to the 51-year-old Galveston, Texas, native. His family tree boasts an array of public servants and professionals: an attorney, several judges and policemen. His grandfather was a judge, and Wiley can look back a few generations to another grandfather who rode on horseback among several South Texas counties as a “circuit” judge.

Following a stint with the Army, serving in Vietnam in the late 1960s, Wiley returned to Galveston, quickly rising through the ranks of the city police and county sheriff's departments. He moved to Georgetown in 1983 and became the Mount Pleasant police chief from 1985-89. Wiley joined the City of Charleston just months prior to Charleston's experience with Hurricane Hugo. His experience with Gulf Coast hurricanes made him invaluable to the City of Charleston and Mount Pleasant communities. At the City of Charleston, Wiley served as accreditation and special operations manager, plus a variety of other roles and responsibilities within the nine-year period.

“My previous knowledge, experience and professional connections with the city's police will give us an edge to connect with valuable resources for supplies, staff training and other needs that we should capitalize upon,” Wiley said. “This will help get things accomplished as we establish our future roles.”

Wiley works with an ample police force of 125 officers who patrol both institutions. A segment of the force is composed of sworn officers who undergo formal training at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy in Columbia and are extended commissions which empower them to perform traditional police duties, like executing the powers of arrest, statewide. Non-sworn officers support other campus activities.

The force specializes in covering both campuses by foot and bicycle patrols. “Our foot patrol is more effective in the busy downtown environment,” Wiley said. MUSC's bike patrol premiered on campus in 1992 and was recognized as a model specialty patrol unit throughout the state.

Top on Wiley's agenda is achieving state and national accreditation for the force. In 1983, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) began accepting applications for accreditation from law enforcement agencies based upon standards and process. CALEA recognizes five phases in the accreditation process: application, self-assessment, on-site assessment, commission review and decision, and maintaining compliance and reaccreditation.

“Why shouldn't our expectations be high,” said Wiley, an assessor and team leader with CALEA. He led Charleston police through accreditation in 1990 under chief Reuben Greenberg. “Like physicians and faculty members, we, in law enforcement, need to embrace a body of standards that will help us create and develop policies that meet state and national criteria.”

More recently, there's been a boom in the number of agencies seeking accreditation. Statewide, about 13 agencies have been accredited including Greenville County, Mount Pleasant and the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Nationally, comparing 17,000 law enforcement agencies throughout the country, only 350 have attained accreditation.

“We have the most excellent group of employees,” Wiley said referring to his staff. “There's strong support between the College of Charleston and MUSC. They understand and appreciate the value of a good education.”

And what about the future for MUSC's Public Safety Office? Wiley hopes to enhance the force's image beginning with uniform changes, improved communications, recognition through awards and accolades, and the empowerment of supervisors in certain decision-making roles.

“I'd like to see the image of our employees improve through enhanced standards regarding recruitment and retention of well qualified personnel,” Wiley said. “Law enforcement accreditation can and will help us do just that.”

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