Public shares views of campus police department

Tuesday, August 4, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

Members of the public shared their experiences and praise for the MU Police Department during a Monday meeting with assessors for the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

About a dozen people participated in a 30-minute meeting in Memorial Union, where six Columbia supporters testified in favor of the department receiving re-accreditation.

Jordan Paul, president of the Missouri Students Association, described his experience working with MU police. One cooperative event is the student safety walk. Student leaders and administrators tour the campus along with MU police and look for safety hazards, such as poor lighting and broken blue-light phones used to contact police in an emergency.

“I’ve never had problems with campus police in any context,” Paul said. He later said  MU police are often criticized by students for crackdowns on minor crimes like drinking and speeding, but he thinks officers are more interested in overall campus safety.

To gain re-accreditation, the MU Police Department must meet 357 of the accreditation commission's 463 standards. Capt. Brian Weimer of MU police said the department sent copies of its files for review more than a month ago to prove the Police Department has followed its own policies and to check its compliance with the agency’s standards.

Since arriving in Columbia on Saturday for the on-site assessment, the assessors have conducted MU police employee interviews, participated in ride-alongs and gathered public comments by phone, Weimer said. The on-site assessment will finish Tuesday with exit interviews of Weimer, Chief Jack Watring and other personnel.

Weimer estimated the assessors will have a completed draft of their report for the commission a month from now. Watring is scheduled to appear before the commission for its decision in November.

The MU Police Department was last re-accredited in 2006.

“It helps ensure that you’re on the cutting edge of professionalism,” Weimer said.

Weimer said the Missouri State Highway Patrol is also accredited by the commission, but the Columbia Police Department and Boone County Sheriff’s Department are not.

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