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The Daily Tar Heel

Student Union puts emphasis on security after incident

“The issue with Sundays is that there aren’t really any adults working around the Union.” Johnson said.

“The people managing Alpine — Rachel and I — are students.”

Rachel Gaylord-Miles, her co-manager, immediately called 911, but said she didn’t see officers for almost 20 minutes.

The Student Union does not have any daytime officers, but a officer is scheduled to guard the area by Wendy’s from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. The incident on Sunday was reported at about 4:20 p.m. Union Director Crystal King, however, said in an email that Department of Public Safety officers were on the scene in minutes.

Johnson, dissatisfied with the delayed response and concerned about her fellow employees, called her general manager and decided to close down the bagel shop before any orders were issued by the Student Union or the DPS.

Student employees were also essential in handling a situation with a protestor who had been antagonizing Pit Preacher Gary Birdsong with a sex toy earlier in the semester.

King said the Union has been analyzing its safety and emergency procedures and is prepared to implement changes in the coming weeks. Evacuation assignments will be more direct and refined and student staff will have emergency kits made accessible to them.

Another security measure, the implementation of a system that will allow for specific doors, areas or the entire building on lockdown electronically, has been considered, but is not currently financially feasible, King said.

Even with security guards and safety procedures already in place, DPS continues to adapt its strategy, said DPS spokesman Randy Young.

“Not only do we review incidents on our campuses, but we look at incidents that occur on other campuses,” he said. “We learn how to adjust our operations and communications with every incident.”

Young said guards are located throughout the campus. Security guards typically are not sworn law officers, don’t carry weapons and can only observe and report issues to actual officers, he said.

Actual law enforcement officers, however, patrol the Pit due to its high foot volume. There is no strict schedule for this patrol, Young said, but he estimated that during the week an officer is near the area every minute or two.

The entire Union staff, full and part time, is trained to address emergency situations ranging from fires and severe weather to Alert Carolina incidents, King said.

Johnson said, as an Alpine employee, she was not included in these trainings.

She noted the alleged assailant was not particularly urgent about leaving the area, yet the response was still slow.

“I think the thing that was most concerning, is that he was just very calmly stalking this person,” she said.

Despite the backlash toward DPS, Young expressed thanks for the assistance offered by students and staff in handling the situation and hoped they would remain as attentive in less-than-emergency situations.

“When we say we empower the University community, it’s not just about violent crimes or potentially violent crimes.”

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