After arriving at Bowdoin in 2005, Executive Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols set a goal to get the Office of Safety and Security accredited by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA)—a professional association committed to “excellence” in campus public safety and law enforcement. In January, the Office of Safety and Security joined a group of 100 colleges and universities internationally to become accredited by IACLEA.
“It’s a professional standard that we’ve aspired to and achieved,” Nichols said in a Zoom interview with the Orient. “We’re going to keep growing as an agency [and] growing in our professionalism, and it’s [great to] know that we’re always using, adopting and operating by best practices that are nationally and even internationally recognized.”
The IACLEA accreditation process has five major steps: self-assessment, policymaking, mock assessment, accreditation agency and maintaining these standards.
The department began seriously working toward accreditation when the College hired David Profit as the associate director of safety and security in 2014. Profit had previously served as an accreditation officer and shared Nichols’ goal of receiving an accreditation from the IACLEA. During Profit’s first three years, the entire department began looking at Safety and Security’s existing policies and drafting new policies that were compliant with IACLEA’s standards.
“We basically wanted to start from the ground floor with policies and procedures,” said Profit in a Zoom interview with the Orient, who retired from his position at the College in 2019, but continues to be the Office’s accreditation consultant. “There was a good foundation to start with, but we revisited everything, and we wrote all new policies.”
One of the biggest internal changes for the department is the level of documentation that IACLEA expects, which Nichols has seen in IACLEA’s standards for documenting training.
“Any training that we do is now put into as a proof of compliance and documented into the system,” Nichols said. There’s a lot of reasons for that, [for example] from a civil liability standpoint. Sometimes we’re going to have to be asked to show what the officers were taught.”
The department is focused on expanding the areas of training for other officers. This year, the entire department will attend a Civil Rights training with the attorney general’s office, whereas other agencies only one member of a department attends specialized training.
Nichols also noted that many officers are trained in a specific skill that they contribute to the department. This variety in expertise was an asset in achieving IACLEA standards.
“Certain officers who have critical roles, whether it be in training, or property management, and things like that played a big role … but virtually every member of the department had to buy into this undertaking in order to make them successful.”
Profit also noted the benefits that come with IACLEA accreditation, such as an extensive network of resources and connections with other IACLEA-accredited agencies.
“[IACLEA] supplies an overwhelming amount of resources. If they don’t have [what you need], they will seek out for you or make recommendations,” he said. “It’s hard to recreate the wheel, and all the agencies that are involved in this process have good ideas.”
Although the Office of Safety and Security is accredited, Nichols is working toward upholding the standards. IACLEA reviews each accreditation every four years, so maintaining the level of documentation, training and compliance is important.
Nichols noted that community outreach was an evaluated part of the accreditation, but he believes that was one of the department’s strengths before the process of accreditation began. However, Nichols doesn’t believe that the accreditation will be noticeable to students.
“Most [students] probably aren’t going to recognize [the effects of the accreditation] other than it really reinforces our philosophy,” he said. “The [accreditation] really allows us to formalize it, put it out there for the whole world to see and encourage the officers to engage and live up to that philosophy, [to] hold them accountable.”
Now that his 16-year goal has been accomplished, Nichols plans to focus on one short-term goal—reconnecting with students after being physically distanced from many due to COVID-19.
“We’ve worked a long, hard time many, many years to build a level of trust with the community, especially our students, and, and we can’t afford to lose that. And COVID hurt us in that regard,” Nichols said. “It doesn’t take long to lose trust, but it takes a long time to build it.”
Correction 4/30/2021, 11:5o a.m.: An earlier version of this article misstated that David Profit was hired as the assistant director of safety and security, when actually he was hired as the associate director of safety and security. The article has been updated to correct these errors.