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The Daily Tar Heel

Police cooperate with students in effort to bolster school safety

In the middle of the night, the P2P powers along through Fraternity Court and toward South Campus, carrying new first-years and returning students. The retro-style bus is one of many ways students stay safe on campus, and although it looks like it has been around since South Campus’s construction, only 20 years ago it was the result of student feedback to the campus police department. 

Over 4,000 new students have arrived on campus in the past week, and the police and transportation department are in full swing, debriefing campus leadership and new students.

“I received a lot of information about campus safety during orientation, and also the website is really helpful as well,” said first-year Bria Bryant. “Because of this, I will try my best to never walk alone, always have a buddy to go with me to class, or the dining hall or Franklin Street.”

Many events hosted by the police department aim to facilitate relationships with students and help them feel comfortable making suggestions, asking questions or reporting suspicious activity.

“Our crime prevention officer and a few other officers put a menu of items out there,” said Randy Young, spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety. “Our most prevalent crime is larceny, so preventing crimes of opportunity like larceny throughout campus is something that we certainly emphasize.”

While rates of burglary decreased by 50 percent from 2014 to 2016, rates of robbery and assault saw increases. In December of 2017, the assault and robbery of a woman by the Old Well brought the safety and effectiveness of the Alert Carolina system into question. 

Alongside the aforementioned incident, the 2017-18 school year saw many protests, a strong police presence around Silent Sam and the explosion of the Davie Poplar. 

“When I heard about Davie Poplar, I didn’t think it was real,” said sophomore Caroline Sargent. “I went for a run and saw they had police set up at every corner, which made me feel safe but at the same time, the fact that it happened scared me.”

While Sargent felt rattled by the explosion and the Old Well incident, other students, such as sophomore Rachel Cannon, did not feel less safe on campus. Student at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy, Mackenzie Warner, said she never felt unsafe on campus.

“I feel like your parents are always scared for you, but when I came I never really felt scared,” Warner said. “I also never went anywhere alone. I would worry about my stuff at the library when I went to the bathroom, but nothing ever happened.”

Young said one of the most common issues with returning students is a disregard for personal items. At the dining halls and libraries, students often claim seats by leaving their belongings unattended. This creates an opportunity for larceny, which the police department warns students about. It also reminds students that some unattended baggage could be dangerous.

“Folks can always be reminded to report suspicious behavior,” Young said. “I think a lot of times folks may walk past something that they view as suspicious, but they don’t report it. It may not even be a threat to them, but it may be a threat to the next person.” 

There are a variety of ways for students to report suspicious behavior through the LiveSafe app, which launched in 2016. Members of the UNC community can report tips, request travel assistance and contact police. 

The Department of Public Safety arranges a variety of events throughout the year, such as Coffee with a Cop and tabling at Cyclicious in the Pit. Officers were patrolling and tabling at FallFest on Sunday, Aug. 19. 

“One of the ways that we try to decrease the chances of crime is by meeting with folks,” Young said. “Folks that have certain perceptions about the police department can meet us and find out how approachable we are.”

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