In March, the University requested that the joint jurisdiction policy between the Chapel Hill Police Department and UNC Police be expanded to include off-campus Greek housing.
Chapel Hill Police Chief Chris Blue said the request is similar to the 2009 expansion of the policy when UNC Police took over primary jurisdiction of Granville Towers, a privately-run complex near Franklin Street housing over a thousand undergraduate students.
“It's almost exclusively students on that property, with the exception of people who might work there,” Blue said. “UNC opted to take over responsibility for that property, and that's very similar, I think, to their proposal with respect to the Greek properties, with a largely student population.”
This latest proposed expansion would be an extension of the agreement that the Town of Chapel Hill and UNC entered into when they took over this jurisdiction of Granville Towers. Here's what this would mean for students:
What is joint jurisdiction?
North Carolina law states that the jurisdiction of a campus police force — such as UNC Police — includes property owned or leased by the university associated with it, as well as any public road or highway passing through it or immediately next to it.
“An agreement for joint jurisdiction is basically an agreement between the campus police and whatever municipality that they're working with,” Fran Muse, the director of Carolina Student Legal Services, said. “In this case, it would be UNC Police and Chapel Hill to expand their jurisdiction to properties that are not owned or leased by the University.”
When properties fall under this joint jurisdiction, both UNC Police and Chapel Hill Police are able to respond to the incident, Blue said. But, under requests for this policy that originate from the University, UNC Police becomes the primary force responsible for dealing with reports occurring at these locations.
For areas under joint jurisdiction policy, the call is routed to the first available officer from either police force, but the primary police department responsible for enforcement would be UNC Police.
“We can generally get there more quickly than one of their officers would so we might respond there and stabilize a situation,” Blue said, referring to University-owned properties not adjacent to campus. “But they have responsibility for that property, so we would stabilize and hand it over to them upon their arrival.”
Properties currently falling under joint jurisdiction include:
- Granville Towers and its parking lot
- Carolina Square apartment complex
- Cheek Clark Building
- UNC Facilities
- Administrative Offices
- Horace Williams Airport
- UNC Art Lab
What would the expansion mean?
The expansion, if granted, would only extend the jurisdiction of UNC Police to off-campus fraternity and sorority houses.
The main motivation behind the expansion request was to increase the safety of students, Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz told The Daily Tar Heel.
“It always comes back to that, and to provide a safer environment for our students on these properties to have the ability of either police force or both police forces working in collaboration to handle anything that might occur on those properties,” Guskiewicz said.
UNC Media Relations said that making the campus police force the primary response agent for calls at Greek housing would allow students at these locations access to more resources.
“By allowing UNC Police oversight of fraternity and sorority housing, the University will be able to more efficiently connect students with resources, such as mental health assistance, academic support and/or alcohol and drug prevention resources,” Media Relations said in a statement.
Representatives from the UNC Interfraternity Council and the UNC Panhellenic Council did not respond to requests for comment from The Daily Tar Heel by the time of publication.
The proposal is still under consideration and has not yet gone before the Town Council for approval. Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said the discussion about the request has been tabled for the time being as UNC and the Town focus on the end of the spring semester.
To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.