By Andrea Picou, Staff Writer
Published in print Aug. 20, 2014
On July 31st the UNC Campus Security Initiative (CSI) published their final report. The Campus Security Panel was a cooperative effort with security personnel, students, faculty, staff, and administrators from all 17 UNC campuses. The report included a thorough study of student security and campus public safety and recorded thirty-six recommendations, twelve of which are designated as “top priorities”.
The twelve prioritized recommendations are focused on sensitive crimes like sexual violence, standardizing funding and accreditation across the campuses, and maintaining an equal standard of training and specialized resources throughout the UNC system.
Specifically on sexual harassment and sexual violence cases, the recommendations call for a standard system-wide policy and bans students and individuals without specialized training from serving on disciplinary panels or investigating these types of crimes.
The Chief of Police of UNCG’s Police Department, James Herring, was on the Campus Security Initiative and served as co-chair of the Public Safety Group. He said, “The UNCG Police Department had already begun updating policies concerning how we address sexual assault investigations and training for employees prior to the Initiative.” He continued “As a university, we are already compliant with many of the recommendations from the CSI.”
Also included in the recommendations were provisions to improve how the University handles mental health issues and pushes campuses to become more proactive when it comes to substance and alcohol abuse. Some of the recommendations have been stifled by the North Carolina General Assembly’s failure to pass adequate funding for public universities. The CSI instructs UNC Campuses to pay security employees at competitive market rates, and to “establish and adequately fund a Clery compliance officer position to coordinate Clery Act compliance activities.” The Clery Act requires universities to report on crimes on or near their campuses. According to Chief Herring UNCG public safety employees are paid 14% below the market rate. Their pay will not be increased until funding is provided and the Clery Act compliance officer position has not been funded or created.
When asked if the recommendations were mandatory Chief Herring responded, “My take on the report is that individual universities must make every effort to comply with the recommendations that do not depend on direct funding from UNC General Administration or the Legislature. Once funding is provided, universities should comply with those as well.”
In light of the recent national uproar surrounding racially motivated harassment and profiling by police departments Chief Herring said, “The CSI did not address biased based policing specifically.” He said, “ For the past 12 years, I have conducted analyses of traffic stop and arrest statistics to ensure that our enforcement actions are a fair reflection of the demographic makeup of our city and campus. That analysis continually shows that ourofficers are equitable in enforcement actions.”Although the CSI emphasizes standardizing security practices system wide, Chief Herring said, “the recommendations in the report reflect a good balance of system-wide changes and flexibility for individual campus cultures. Establishing common training, for instance, maximizes resources.”
As UNCG evolves its security policies and practices to remain in-line with the UNC system, the community will see some changes.