The campus police department at Dixie State University has become the first campus police department in Utah to receive an official accreditation from the state’s Chiefs of Police Association.
As part of the vetting process, the campus police force opened up its policies and facilities to the association, which determined that the department had met or exceeded industry best practices on 168 different “points of proof.”
Campus Police Chief Blair Barfuss says the designation is about increasing transparency and setting high standards.
“The accreditation piece verifies to the others that an independent group came in and essentially put their seal of approval on the university,” he said. “It tells everybody that, ‘Yeah, they meet best practices. They’re doing things correctly.’”
One of the biggest hurdles was creating a policy manual for the department.
Barfuss has spent two decades working with police departments along the Wasatch Front and says that a policy manual is a critical component of any department.
He said that a policy manual didn’t exist when he took over Dixie State University's police force last May, adding that working with the university’s general counsel to create one took the better part of a year.
Despite the rigorous vetting process, Barfuss says he expects other campus police departments to pursue this.
“The accreditation keeps us accountable to the people we serve,” he said. “I know there's interest from other university chiefs in receiving accreditation. I know they see the value in what’s been done.”
Dixie State University has seen its largest-ever freshman class this year — and Barfuss says his department will grow to keep up with the size of the student body.
David Fuchs is a Report for America corps member who reports from KUER's Southwest Bureau in St. George.