Alert Carolina scrutinized over recent decision
A recent arrest for an alleged on-campus rape has highlighted difficulties the University faces when deciding whether it should notify students of a crime.
A man was arrested Oct. 14 on six charges, including second-degree rape — but the incident was not emailed to the UNC community through Alert Carolina.
No alert was sent because it would have impeded the investigation, it was not deemed an immediate danger and local media was covering the incident extensively, Department of Public Safety spokesman Randy Young said.
“I can’t get into the specifics of how this would impede the investigation,” he said. “It falls to the department’s discretion.”
“If we’re trying to restrict information from the public, we’re trying to restrict information from a suspect.”
The suspect, Jade Rofot, 29, was charged with two counts of second-degree rape, two counts of second-degree sexual offense and two counts of sexual battery, Young said.
Police said the crime occurred in the early morning of Oct. 13 on Manning Drive.
DPS sent warrants out soon after, and Rofot was arrested on the evening of Oct. 14 by Durham police at his place of employment in Durham. He is now being held at Orange County Jail on a $2.5 million bond, Young said.
In September, the University revised its Alert Carolina notification structure to expand to three categories of warning — emergency warning, timely warning and informational message.
Since the system was revised, Alert Carolina has issued three crime-related warnings, all of which were deemed informational.
On Sept. 12, an Alert Carolina email requested information about an incident that occurred on the P2P Express early the previous morning. Matthew Kirby was arrested by campus police Sept. 13 and charged with two counts of sexual battery.
Assistant Dean of Students Melinda Manning said sending out an Alert Carolina notification is a difficult choice.
“We want to keep the campus community alerted to any potential alert, but we also know that if we send out too many alerts students, faculty and staff will start ignoring them.”
Student Body President Mary Cooper, who was involved in the system’s revision, said there are several factors to consider when sending an alert.
“I do trust that there were conversations about it,” Cooper said, referring to the Oct. 13 incident.
Freshman Kaitlin Floyd said she is concerned the University did not send an alert.
“We as students have a right to know,” she said. “All my meetings are late at night. I need to know the times and places of these things and where to avoid.”
Senior Vincent Klokman said everyone should have been informed about the incident.
“The Alert Carolina system is bad in itself,” Klokman said. “It gives you so many texts for a small tornado, but not this. It needs to be updated.”
Young said that in this case DPS did not feel the suspect was a direct threat to campus.
“We felt the campus was best protected by bringing the person into custody as soon as possible.”
Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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