Several UNC students living in off-campus housing have reported another change: an increase in patrols near their housing.
Hannah Cross, a UNC student who lives off of Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, said although she normally sees patrols on other streets, her's isn’t typically one of them — but lately she's seen more patrols on her street.
“Usually they are here for a reason,” Cross said. “The past three days, I have seen a police car go up and down my street. They go up, kind of sit at the dead end for 1 minute or so, and then come back down.”
Other students have reported seeing more police cars patrolling near Chapel Ridge, Chapel View and Homestead Park.
Cross said while she feels safe in her home, the increased patrolling almost makes her paranoid.
“Like did I do something wrong? Are they looking at me for something?” Cross said.
Ran Northam, community safety communications specialist for the Town of Chapel Hill, confirmed in an email that Chapel Hill police have increased their patrols near student housing areas, but there haven’t been any increases in break-ins since spring break.
Northam said this is a normal procedure for Chapel Hill police when students are on an extended break. He said the police are treating this time as such because many students who live off-campus may have chosen to go back to their permanent residence during the pandemic.
“The increased patrol is an effort to discourage would-be criminals from capitalizing on people being away from home,” Northam said. “Being that we could be in these conditions for some time, that increased patrol may be experienced longer than usual.”
CHPD is offering to do house checks for residents while they are away, where a police officer will drive by their residence and make sure it remains secure. In addition, due to a stay-at-home order from Orange County, residents have been asked to stay in their homes unless they have to leave for essential reasons.
Chapel Hill Police do have the authority to enforce the order, according to a press release from the Town of Chapel Hill. However, the release states education, dialogue and voluntary cooperation from all residents and businesses are important.
No one will be arrested or cited for violating the order unless there are continuous, egregious violations, according to the release.
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