The Alfred State University Police Department is part of the State University of New York (SUNY) campus system. Its 11 sworn members protect two campuses educating 3,600 students. The department adopted Lexipol in 2016.

The Challenge

“When you’re playing constant catch-up, you put yourself in a bad spot,” says Chief Matthew Heller of the Alfred State University Police Department in New York. The department had strong policies in place, built from university police department best practices, but “the problem was trying to manage the updates, trying to keep up with the legislative changes,” he says.

Keeping the policy content updated was challenging enough, but the department’s lack of a policy management platform was inefficient and contributed to the danger that officers could be working from the wrong version. “Our policies were in binders, so we had to make changes to them manually,” Chief Heller says. “We had electronic copies of the policies on a network drive so people could access them, and we had a manual printed out in the dispatch center. It was up to the officers to replace old policies with new ones in their individual binders. When we experienced turnover, we often saw that the updates were just stuffed inside the binder.”

The University Police was also still using a manual check-off sheet posted in the officer’s room for policy acknowledgment tracking. “The system was very inefficient,” Chief Heller says.

The Solution

Lexipol’s New York Law Enforcement Policies and Training service provided the University Police with a way to build on their strong policy foundation, preserving what worked while providing an electronic platform to make policy management and updates much easier. The subscription service provides a comprehensive set of policies and policy updates whenever laws and best practices change.

Knowing they were on an aggressive timeframe for adopting the new policies, Chief Heller chose to work with Lexipol’s Professional Services team to accelerate the implementation. “We had just the summer to get it done, because we knew we wouldn’t have the time to dedicate to this project once the new semester hit,” Chief Heller says. “We also wanted to be fully implemented by January 1 so the new policies would be in place when we went through the reaccreditation process.”

Chief Heller and his lieutenants spent several days a week working in concert with Patrick Kane from Lexipol’s Professional Services team. “We went through our policies and procedures, line by line,” Chief Heller says. “Patrick would show us where the Lexipol content came from and recommend how we could merge our content with it, make needed changes and additions, and add hyperlinks from various outside sources to our policies and procedures,” which were uploaded to Lexipol’s Supplemental Publication Service.

Kane’s familiarity with the Lexipol content and Knowledge Management System (KMS), as well as his experience in implementing new policies, was key to meeting the University Police’s target implementation date. “There’s no doubt about it, we wouldn’t have gotten through it without him,” Chief Heller says. “Having someone who can work with you, keeping you motivated and on task, is huge.”

Although university police departments have unique features, Chief Heller found the Lexipol policies to be easily adaptable. “We didn’t do too much alteration because a lot of the policies are based on case law, state law or federal law,” he says. “We did add some department- and campus-specific content, such as our CLERY policy and the campus Emergency Notification Policy.”

Chief Heller credits the KMS mobile app and Daily Training Bulletins with increasing the officers’ understanding and use of the new policies. “The policies are accessible to the officers on the road if they need something quick, and the Daily Training Bulletins keep them interacting with the policies and procedures every day,” he says. “It’s not just thrown in their locker and left there.”

The Results

With the department’s policies and procedures now housed in an online platform, the University Police has a more efficient, accurate policy management system. The features this system provides—such as electronic acknowledgment— combined with Lexipol’s proven policy content and continuous policy updates, put the University Police on stronger legal footing.

“For me it’s all about liability,” Chief Heller says. “I know that we have good policies, not just because we’re an accredited agency but because we have Lexipol. I’ve had other accredited agencies ask me for copies of my policies. I also don’t have to worry about keeping up with case law and doing updates. I know I’m going to be notified when there’s a critical update, and the Lexipol staff is always willing to help with the updating.”

"I know that we have good policies, not just because we’re an accredited agency but because we have Lexipol. "

- Chief Matthew Heller, Alfred State University Police Department

"The policies are accessible to the officers on the road if they need something quick, and the Daily Training Bulletins keep them interacting with the policies and procedures every day. "

- Chief Matthew Heller, Alfred State University Police Department

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