Apr. 8—Something dawned on Murrysville Police Chief Tom Seefeld last month as he hopped onto the turnpike, heading home from Harrisburg after receiving the Pennsylvania Law Enforcement Accreditation Commission's Premier Law Enforcement Agency Award.
"It kind of hit me that, between here and Ohio, there are only two departments that have achieved this," Seefeld said.
Murrysville's police department is now one of only 15 statewide to receive the award, which is presented to departments that have undergone five three-year cycles of rigorous re-accreditation through the program, created in 2001 by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.
Prior to the program's creation, Seefeld said training opportunities for officers across the state were lacking. In fact, when he took over as police chief, he was shaken to discover that the department did not have a structure policy manual.
"The association started looking at how they could improve law enforcement," he said. "What you get through the program is a police department operating by high standards and a group of professional officers."
Murrysville's 21 officers are fully accredited through the program and operate according to its 139 standards and 289 sub-sections. The department was re-accredited in February and presented with the Premier Law Enforcement Agency Award on March 18 in Harrisburg.
"Many departments have tried, failed and given up on this process," Seefeld said. "They didn't have the support of the rank-and-file, but we've gotten great buy-in from all our officers."
The accreditation assessment is made by three members of law enforcement who come from all corners of Pennsylvania. They tour the department, review and assess all policies, interview the chief and undertake ride-alongs with officers as part of the process.
"As chief, we have to be answerable to you as a police department," Seefeld told council members and citizens at this week's council meeting. "And I can promise that, through this program, we'll continue to deliver the highest level of service as a department."
Murrysville Chief Administrator Jim Morrison congratulated Seefeld and the department.
"I've been involved in local government for 40 years with a number of police chiefs," he said of Seefeld. "And by far, this man is the highest-level professional police officer in the business."
For more about the accreditation program, see PAchiefs.org, the website for the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, email@example.com or via Twitter .