The WPI Police Dept. has achieved state certification from the Mass. Police Accreditation Commission. Chief Cheryl Martunas attended the formal presentation of the certification, accompanied by several WPI officers, during a ceremony on Nov. 5 at the Andover Country Club.
“Achieving certification from the Mass. Police Accreditation Commission is considered a very significant accomplishment, and is a recognition that is highly regarded by the law enforcement community,” said Donna Taylor Mooers, the commission’s executive director.
“My supervisors embrace it, and the Union leadership has been instrumental in the planning and developing of policies.” – WPI Chief Cheryl Martunas
The WPI department was assessed in August by a team of commission-appointed assessors. The certification lasts for three years.
Certification is a self-initiated evaluation process by which police departments strive to meet and maintain standards that have been established by law enforcement professionals. The standards reflect critical areas of police management, operations, and technical support activities.
“Going through the process initially requires intense self-scrutiny, and ultimately provides a quality assurance review of the agency,” said Mooers.
Martunas says that after beginning work on the certification, the department brought in former Framingham lieutenant Mike Hill in as a consultant. “We wanted to do it,” she says. “We want a professional department that’s accountable, with the best written procedures. No grey area, but guidance the officers can go to. It’s an added tool for us to operate. With the scrutiny law enforcement receives, we want best practices to operate under.”
“Our training is ongoing,” she continues. “We’ve incorporated ethics and cultural diversity into this. It holds us to a higher standard of accountability.”
Martunas says the certification is a three-year process, and that the department will keep records in a number of areas, including documenting motor vehicle pursuits, use of force, internal affairs investigations, and disciplinary actions.
She points out that all campus officers go through the Mass. State Police academy, and receive other instruction in firearms, CPR and first-responder training, rapid response, dealing with high stress situations, and other specialized training, followed by six weeks of training in the field. Four of the officers are also certified EMTs.
The department has 16 full-time officers, two part-timers, one full-time traffic enforcement officer, two part-time traffic officers, and four full-time dispatchers. The officers go through WPI Safe Zone training, and supervise the SNAP shuttle and student Emergency Medical Services program.
“It’s a lot of work, and it doesn’t stop,” Martunas says. “The biggest challenge is that we have to live it, and walk the walk. My supervisors embrace it, and the Union leadership has been instrumental in the planning and developing of policies. Now, it’s integrating this into the culture and how we live every day.”
Massachusetts is one of 25 states that offers an accreditation program for its law enforcement departments. In 2004 the Mass. Police Accreditation Commission transitioned from a state agency to a private, nonprofit organization now known as the Massachusetts Police Accreditation Commission Inc. The commission, with an 11-member board, is the sole arbiter of state certification and accreditation of police agencies within Massachusetts.