Campus News

UNC Police 911 center receives national accreditation

Last month, Carolina's 911 Center became the only university police communications center in the state to earn national accreditation, and one of just six in the country. 

Standing next to the accreditation plaque, from left, are UNC Police Captain Ryan Weeks; UNC Police Captain Tommy Twiddy; UNC Police Lieutenant/CALEA Accreditation Manager Bill Nato; Public Safety / 911) Communications Assistant Director Jamelle Emerson; Public Safety / 911) Communications Director Amy Oakley; UNC Police Captain Rahsheem Holland; and UNC Police Chief David Perry. (Photo by Randy Young)

UNC Police received its first Public Safety Communications accreditation from the Commission for Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies last month, making it the only university police communications center in the state with this certification, and one of just six in the country. 

 The communications center has 14 dispatchers and two supervisors and answers 911 calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  

A CALEA accreditation is the gold standard in public safety, said UNC Police Chief David Perry. Created in 1979 as a credentialing authority for law endorsement, CALEA has accredited UNC Police since 1995 for its patrol, management and administrative services. This year, UNC Police received its 9th CALEA accreditation for Law Enforcement as well as its first for Communications Operations. 

 “Achieving this distinction is a testament to the dedication and professionalism of Communications Manager Amy Oakley and her staff,” Perry said. “This wasn’t just checking off a box. They had to implement policies and procedures to comply with each one of CALEA’s 213 standards. The compliance and accreditation standards achieved will not be put on a shelf and forgotten. This will be an ongoing process.” 

 The accreditation process began in spring 2018 when UNC Police began collecting data to document the center’s performance on standards covering human resources, training, homeland security, operations and other areas. In July, a CALEA assessor visited the 911 center for an on-site review of the 16-member unit led by Oakley, a 25-year University employee. 

 The center had kept its own set of standards for years, but the CALEA accreditation “affirms the high standards of professionalism we’re constantly striving to meet,” Oakley said. 

 For instance, the center’s internal standard has been to answer each 911 call within three seconds of the first ring. To meet CALEA standards, a center must show that it answers 95% of all 911 calls within 10 seconds. Over the past year, the 911 center has answered 100% of 911 calls within 10 seconds.  

Reaccreditation is set for July 2023. To remain accredited, “we have to show continuous organization improvement for the next four years” through ongoing training and keeping equipment and software up to standard, Oakley said. For instance, the center is already looking for ways to improve communication with employees and students using an updated mobile app. 

 Oakley sees continuous improvement as a good thing because it ensures that the center will remain on the forefront of industry standards, which means a safer campus for everyone.