Photo: The Yavapai College Campus Safety Team
Yavapai College Campus Safety affirmed its reputation as an elite policing and security force when it received accreditation from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA), the largest professional organization dedicated to campus safety and law enforcement. The announcement makes Yavapai College Campus Safety only the third community college police force in the nation – and the very first in Arizona – to receive the honor.
“I am so proud that our police department has achieved this major milestone,” YC’s Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services Dr. Clint Ewell said. “Just as Yavapai College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission to demonstrate standards of excellence, our police department has now been accredited by IACLEA – ensuring students, employees and our community that we consistently follow best practices in law enforcement.”
With the announcement, made at the IACLEA’s Annual Conference & Exposition in June, Yavapai College Campus Safety joins a prestigious, sixty-three-year-old organization of police chiefs, public safety directors, law enforcement and security personnel specifically dedicated to the protection, service and support of higher education. With more than 4,200 members in eleven countries, the IACLEA shares best practices, solves problems and sets performance standards for their peers around the globe.
“We congratulate Yavapai College Campus Safety on achieving IACLEA accreditation, a unique distinction among campus police and public safety agencies,” Eric Heath, the IACLEA President and the University of Chicago’s Associate Vice President for Safety & Security, said. “The men and women protecting your campus have proven through policy and practice the commitment to operate at the highest level of the profession.”
For Yavapai College Campus Safety, accreditation caps a rigorous five-step process of self-assessment, on-site inspection and commission review that took three years to complete. For incoming Chief Tyran Payne, it means that YCCS meets the highest possible standards. “Not just best practices in law enforcement, but best practices as they relate to policing in higher education,” he added. “It lets the community know that we’re listening, we have their best interests at heart and we want to provide the best service we can.”
YC’s path to IACLEA membership began at the urging of Vice President Ewell, and quickly became a quest for both outgoing Chief Jerald Monahan and incoming Chief Payne. “The [accreditation] process itself allowed us to tighten up operationally and administratively,” Payne said, “to take a look at ourselves and implement things we could do better.”
Monahan said it will also improve YCCS’s future. “We’re not [working] in a silo. We’ve got our peers – campus law enforcement leaders – looking over our shoulder, so to speak. People who’ve been there and done that successfully. It fits nicely into the whole message of police reform in today’s environment.”
Campus policing, both chiefs agree, is a specialized brand of law enforcement. “One of our most common calls is students having an emotional or anxiety crisis.” Monahan explained. That’s why YCCS’s 12-member roster includes three adult Mental Health First-Aid instructors. He credits YC’s District Governing Board for envisioning Campus Safety as part of the College community and a positive force, not a punitive one. “That’s a big part of what we do. We’re not there as an enforcer. We’re there to calm and de-escalate a situation. That’s been a big part of what [Chief Payne] has driven the department towards. Then those students can get re-balanced, and go on with their education.”
An enthusiastic participant on multiple committees and many college events, Payne agrees that inclusion, de-escalation and relationships are critical to maintaining a healthy campus. “We have to be community-based and strong. Because we aren’t running call-to-call-to-call, we are afforded the opportunity to be more engaged with students, staff and faculty and visitors to campus.”