Safe and Secure: A Message from Chief Jeff McCracken, Chief of Police
Communication, collaboration, compassion, approachability: these may sound like the ingredients for a healthy personal relationship, but these are also the tenets which underlie the guardian philosophy practiced by UNC Police. It is important to know that our goal for “protecting North Carolina’s future” means empowering a culture for dialogue amidst the discord, for safety amidst unrest, and for the freedom of expression without threat of reprisal. The safety of our students, staff, and faculty is our highest priority.
Moreover, all actions and intentions must adhere to our philosophy of Community Oriented Policing (“COP”). In keeping with this philosophy, we search out, form, and nurture trusting partnerships that put a friendly, familiar, and trusted face on all members of this community. Community Oriented Policing is an organization-wide belief and management approach that promotes greater visibility, the forging of partnerships between UNC Police and members of the University community, proactive problem-solving, and community-mindedness. As such, the following pages are an open invitation into a conversation, an opportunity to engage with us so that we can face challenging issues with equanimity. We are ready to talk, we are prepared to listen, to address concerns, to investigate new ideas, to consider new perspectives, and, when appropriate, to put into practice new approaches.
In 2018 we put these philosophies into practice when we responded to several major events hand-in-hand with fellow first responder agencies, including the detonation of an incendiary device near the Davie Poplar on McCorkle Place quadrangle this past winter, a 13-inch snowfall this past January, and demonstrations and rallies on behalf of numerous issues which are so common at Universities where the principles of free speech and demonstration are upheld.
2018 also saw the addition of a new team member, paws4people® crisis response dog “Franklin”, to the ranks at UNC Police. Franklin is trained to provide “animal-assisted interventions.” These interventions may be provided in a variety of settings, may be group or individual in nature, and may be implemented for persons of any age. Animal assisted interventions provide a soothing and calming influence, helping to heal spirits. Franklin has already shown that he is a valuable and beloved member of the Carolina community.
We continue to cultivate relationships with area law enforcement agencies, community officials and businesses, Orange County agencies, and our neighbors. For example, a UNC Police Community Police Academy started in 2016 offers a natural environment in which University community members can learn about law enforcement through class instruction and open the lines of communication. The program has now familiarized over 20 participants with basics of police training and procedures.
Other collaborative efforts include a partnership with NC DOT’s “Watch for Me NC” campaign which advocates for pedestrian and bicycle safety. Over the past five years, the “Shop with a Cop” program has paired local elementary school children with local police officers for a shopping spree courtesy of Enterprise Fleet Management and the Chapel Hill Optimist Foundation. Partnerships made for the successful staging of many other town/gown events, including safety fairs, a “Cyclicious” bicycle safety fair in the Pit, drug drop/mission medicine events, casual “Coffee with a Cop” sessions, the Chapel Hill’s “Hometown Halloween” event, and celebrations on adjacent Franklin Street on the occasion of major celebrations such as those which occur after major Men’s Basketball’s victories.
UNC-Chapel Hill community members can also learn how to respond in a critical situation by attending one of the many presentations offered by our Community Services officers who work to enhance the campus community’s understanding of how to react in case of a violent event and how to recognize and report domestic violence. Another program administered by Community Services is the longstanding, hands-on RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) class. The RAD system offers instruction on self-defense strategies for individuals when attacked. In addition to adapting to the needs and concerns of an ever-changing culture, UNC Police must stay abreast of the latest technologies in policing, security, and communication.
The Alert Carolina System website is the best source of the most current information during a campus emergency. A dedicated Twitter feed offers a messaging choice through which parents, alumni, neighbors, and those in the greater Carolina community can choose to receive critical communication. Still, our emergency messaging is constantly under review and evolving in light of best practices. In late 2017, the University hired a new Director of Emergency Management and Planning, Darrell Jeter, who is already overseeing improvements to messaging, and more effective deployment of emergency resources.
As part of ongoing campus security and safety planning, the University launched a new classroom door lock installation project to provide additional classroom security. While locks have long existed in campus classrooms, most were external key locks only. With new hardware installed, classroom doors can now be locked from the inside or lock automatically when closed. Room occupants are able to unlock and exit doors with one single turn of the handle in compliance with building and fire codes. Building keyholders, UNC Police, and other authorized personnel retain the ability to unlock doors from the outside. Facilities Services staff have installed new lock hardware on 213 general-purpose classrooms in 36 buildings.
The UNC Police Department continues to be present on social media through both Facebook and on Twitter. Because an extremely high percentage of the University community—both on campus and beyond Chapel Hill—seeks information in this fashion, the use of social networking has become essential in the communications arena, not only in the dissemination of information, but also to set the record straight on misinformation.
Finally, UNC Police continues to promote the broad-based CarolinaSafe initiative, including an online portal to all-things safety-related at UNC and in the surrounding community, including registration information for the LiveSafe® app. This app has fully replaced the Rave Guardian technology and provides UNC students, faculty and staff with a direct connection to UNC Police so that everyone can easily communicate all their safety needs.
Looking ahead, UNC Police is preparing for an assessment by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. of its onsite 9-1-1 Telecommunications Center. UNC’s Police Department and supportive services must regularly comply with nearly 500 standards in order to maintain accredited status.
In keeping with our commitment to working in partnership with the University Community, we need your help in achieving and maintaining our high standard of excellence. Please familiarize yourself with the data, programs, and resources detailed in this report, and partner with us to help create a safe environment at UNC-Chapel Hill. At a time when universities and the police agencies serving those communities are under scrutiny, we invite interest and welcome two-way communication, as we want to exemplify the best agency we can be in our efforts to protect North Carolina’s future.
Chief Jeff B. McCracken