The University of Central Arkansas Police Department is now the first and only state higher education institution to hold Arkansas Law Enforcement Accreditation Program (ALEAP) accreditation.

Awarded by the Arkansas Association of Chiefs of Police, the ALEAP accreditation is given to agencies who have exhibited a high level of excellence and professionalism by meeting ALEAP standards.

To receive the status, the department submitted proof of meeting about 180 standards, which included details on how the department handles finances, processes arrests and collects and processes evidence.

UCAPD spent about eight months preparing the materials and completed the accreditation process.

The standards reflect what the accrediting body has determined to be some of the best practices in law enforcement, said Michael Hopper, public information officer for UCAPD, who also said the accreditation is an honor.

“The process makes a department take a really objective look at how it operates in order to identify any deficiencies and correct them,” Hopper said. “So we learned a lot going through the process, foremost is that we were doing a lot of things right and were already conforming to many of the ‘best practices’ as set forth by the accrediting body.”

The process also allowed the department to implement new policies.

“[We] put some policy into place in order to bridge some gaps between our policy manual and the accreditation standards,” Hopper said.

The department will hold the accreditation for three years and must submit evidence of complying with the accreditation throughout each calendar year.