Lake Area Tech seeking new law enforcement accreditation

Program seeking international accreditation
Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 7:13 PM CDT
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WATERTOWN, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Lake Area Technical College is in the final stages of being accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, or CALEA, meaning that students graduating from Lake Area’s Law Enforcement program will have the top credentials that a student could get.

Jo Vitek is the Accreditation Manager for Lake Area’s Law enforcement program. She says that students will have an advantage against other candidates when searching for law enforcement positions.

“It is definitely a feather that they can put in their cap so to speak, because they’ll be able to say that they ‘graduated from Lake Area Tech College with an associate degree in Law Enforcement. Oh by the way, that program is internationally accredited.‘” says Vitek.

Vitek would know about being CALEA accredited. The retired Watertown Police Chief knows the ins and outs of being accredited during her career, something that Lake Area was more than eager to push for.

“Lake Area Tech, anytime that they can attain any accreditation, they’re going to do that. Personally, every agency that I’ve worked for, worked at, has been CALEA accredited, from Georgia to Florida. So I knew the accreditation process.” says Vitek.

Many of the standards needed to be certified, over 150 of them, are something the program is already teaching. The certification requires that students are trained to deal with social interactions between them and the community. Asa Stiles, the Department Supervisor for Law Enforcement, says that through the programs Guardianship Mentality, students already receive instruction similar to what CALEA calls for.

“Our instructors and I, and Jo, we believe in that guardianship, that service, that community service, that community collaboration mindset. What CALEA is to me is just another level of accountability. Same with body cameras, same with dash cameras, we don’t have anything to hide.” says Stiles.

And Stiles says that he’s more than excited for his students to be considered some of the best in the world.

“We like to be first. We don’t mind to be uncomfortable with trying new things.” says Stiles.

The program has been in the accreditation process for nearly two years. It’s now in the final stage of assessment, which Vitek says involves checks on the program’s integrity and content. She’s confident that the program will receive the accreditation, which will have to be renewed regularly.

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