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Eastern police win Tier I accreditation from state standards council

Published on April 25, 2023

Eastern police win Tier I accreditation from state standards council

police officers
Eastern police officers (from left): Sgt. Christopher Fiore, Interim Deputy Chief Timothy Viens, Chief Steven Tavares and Lt. Edwin Villanueva

The Eastern Connecticut State University police department has earned Tier I state accreditation, the first step in a continuing process to ensure that the department’s policies, procedures and practices reflect standards set by state law and the Connecticut Police Officer Standards and Training Council.

“This is a significant accomplishment that demonstrates our commitment to upholding the highest standards of professionalism, integrity and excellence in law enforcement,” said Chief Stephen Tavares. “This shows our community we’re committed to the highest level of service.”

The department began working toward accreditation last August, with interim Deputy Chief Timothy B. Viens and Sgt. Christopher Fiore managing updates to procedures and responding to specific accreditation requirements. The process was rigorous and comprehensive, Tavares said, evaluating every aspect of the department and involving officers, support staff and the leadership team.

One of the changes to procedures was to add dashboard cameras to the department’s five patrol vehicles as mandated by the 2020 Connecticut Police Accountability Act. Officers had already added body cameras to their gear. Another recent model policy change is to have bilingual signage on medical help and safety. Reporting and intervention requirements have been updated as the result of the accountability law, requiring that an officer observing excessive force must intervene and report it.

public safey building
Eastern's Department of Public Safety building

“A lot of police practices have changed in the past decade,” said Sgt. Fiore, and the 2020 law reflects that.

The 2020 law requires that every police department in the state comply with Tier I accreditation standards in the 2023 calendar year and it mandates that Tier III, the highest level of accreditation, be achieved by 2025.

Accreditation is reviewed every two years, so updating practices and procedures will be continual, noted Tavares. “There will always be a new best practice,” he said. The department will be working toward Tier III, he said. Tier I emphasized getting policies in order, and Tiers II and III are about maintaining a continued history of compliance, he said.

University police departments are held to the same standards as municipal police agencies, although they have the additional requirement of adhering to the federal Clery Act, which requires reporting campus crime and supporting victims of violence.

Eastern’s police department has 17 sworn officers and eight buildings and grounds officers who handle dispatching and are the “eyes and ears” of the department, Tavares said, in addition to civilian support staff.

Written by Lucinda Weiss