“Any kind of call that you get can go bad quickly, and you need to be able to respond appropriately,” Brian Curran, former chief of police for the Town of Chapel Hill, said. “I don’t want to take tools out of the officers’ hands that they might need.”
Lawrence Grossberg, a professor of communication studies and cultural studies, said that he has heard from students who don’t feel safe when officers bring lethal weapons on some calls.
“Has there ever been an instance on campus where the police have responded to a medical emergency and found it necessary to use their weapons or even to threaten to use their weapons?” Grossberg asked.
Grossberg said the presence of lethal weapons is a problem for students.
“I’ve certainly heard from students that some of them find this very intimidating, and some students have said that they won’t call the police because they think the intimidating presence of lethal weapons worsens the situation rather than benefits it,” Grossberg said.
Grossberg said he does not intend to draw conclusions about the issue, but rather intends to make the presence of lethal weapons on all police calls something that the Commission takes up in future discussions.
The Commission also met with members from the Emergency Operations Center team, which has been working on the University’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Desirée Rieckenberg, dean of students, said students are asking questions about academic implications, feelings of loss and grief and managing finances in the face of the virus.
“We’re trying to make sure that students know about the impact fund, and ways that they can potentially access that if they’re eligible,” Rieckenberg said.
Rieckenberg said Counseling and Psychological Services and Campus Health are accessible for students during the pandemic. She said CAPS has had more than 500 appointments since they’ve moved to an online telehealth model.
Rieckenberg also said a website will be launched to help students with requesting financial assistance during the pandemic.
“At this point, we have allocated well over $100,000 to students since the beginning of this incident,” Rieckenberg said. “We’ll take care of where the money comes from.”