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Public Safety wins 3rd reaccreditation

by Connor Watkins
Public Relations
Since receiving its first national accreditation as an accomplished public safety agency in 1999, MUSC’s Department of Public Safety continues its focus and mission of public service by maintaining a safe and secure environment for MUSC faculty, staff, students, patients and their families.
For the third consecutive time, Public Safety won re-accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) in June. CALEA accreditation is good for three years, in which agencies must show continuous proof of compliance. With this professional approval, MUSC continues to be the only stand-alone academic medical university in the nation to receive accreditation, and currently is the only accredited college or institution in South Carolina to achieve this distinction.
Public Safety Accreditation manager Debbie W. Underwood, from left, joins Lisa Montgomery, vice president for Finance & Administration, Stewart Mixon, Chief Operations Officer, and Chief Anthony Dunbar, Public Safety director, celebrate their re-accreditation.

Public Safety staff worked hard to maintain records and provide required information needed to meet CALEA’s 460 accreditation standards. MUSC was 100 percent compliant to all of CALEA’s applicable standards.
Though the department previously received reaccreditation before, this year’s cycle had its fill of challenges to overcome.
“Reaccreditation was extremely challenging this cycle,” said Debbie Waggenbrenner Underwood, Public Safety accreditation manager. “The accreditation standards experienced a complete revision which required a revision of policies and procedures.  The relocation of our communications function provided an additional set of obstacles that we had not experienced in prior assessments. Top-down commitment to accreditation from the university and the department, combined with the fact that policy has become practice at Public Safety, contributed greatly to our recent successful reaccreditation.”
In addition, MUSC joins nine other state law enforcement agencies which are accredited by both the South Carolina Police Accreditation Coalition Inc. (SCPAC) and CALEA.
SCPAC has accredited 40 law enforcement agencies throughout the state and assists public safety programs in developing policies and setting goals. A primary advantage for state accreditation is that it requires law enforcement agencies to comply with approximately 25 percent of the standards that are necessary for international accreditation.
“To become state accredited is like a stepping stone,” said Terrence Green, chief of police at the Lexington Police Department in Lexington and a SCPAC accrediting representative. “Standards were already in place that were modeled after CALEA. The process made it that much easier when participating assessors came through.”
CALEA was created in 1979 as an independent accrediting authority for law enforcement agencies and programs with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, National Sheriff’s Association and Police Executive Research Forum. CALEA uses the accrediting process to improve the delivery of public safety services, encourage efficient use of resources, and give law enforcement agencies the opportunity to show that they meet the standards necessary for accreditation.
To be eligible for accreditation, law enforcement agencies must first enroll in the organization’s law enforcement accreditation program. After establish-ing an accreditation agreement, agencies submit to a three-year accreditation process plan where they must comply with CALEA standards and submit to an on-site assessment guided by trained assessors. The assessors evaluate the agency’s operations in accordance to CALEA standards and also give the public a chance to submit their views of the local law enforcement agency. As part of the community feedback part of the assessment, Public Safety received 19 calls, all of which gave positive feedback. Callers included hospital employees, students, healthcare professionals and other local law enforcement agencies.
“This was our chance for peer review,” said Chief Anthony Dunbar, director of MUSC Department of Public Safety. “It was our chance to have our peers look at what we’re doing and tell us if we’re doing the things that meet the national standards, what we can do better, and where we have deficiencies.”
Once the assessment is complete, the commission’s accreditation review committee holds hearings during the triennial CALEA Conference. If the committees feel that the agency has met CALEA standards, the agency is awarded accreditation.
Entering into its fourth accreditation cycle, Public Safety plans to strive for perfection, according to Dunbar. He also hopes the department will continue to serve as a model for other statewide and national university law enforcement institutions.


Thursday, Aug. 7, 2009

The Catalyst Online is published weekly by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. The Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to The Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.