The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

The Student Voice of UNC Asheville

The Blue Banner

UNC Asheville faces numerous reports of suspicious persons on campus

Students at UNC Asheville report suspicious individuals on campus, and it raises concerns about safety on campus. 

“Our whole goal is to maintain the safety of our students, our faculty, our staff and property on campus, but our number one goal is making sure people are safe,” Casey Anderson, a detective sergeant with University Police said.

The UNCA crime log has 23 reported suspicious individual cases at the university this fall. 

Since UNCA is a public institution and its campus is public property, anyone can visit and roam about campus during the day. 

According to Clery Compliance, public property includes thoroughfares, streets, sidewalks and parking facilities within the campus or immediately adjacent to and accessible from the core campus. Public property also extends to public parks accessible from the campus. 

According to Anderson, to ensure the safety of the campus community, University Police expect patrol officers to be on patrol in a vehicle or on foot at all times.

“University Police officers are not going to be out the entire time that we are here, but the policy is that officers are to be out the majority of the time they are here, so they are constantly out doing patrols, vehicle patrols,” Anderson said. 

According to the UNCA crime log, students at the university reported suspicious individuals in different areas on campus, mostly at dining halls, residence halls and designated parking lots. 

University Police discovered a misdemeanor weapon on educational property, a knife on a reported suspicious individual on Sept. 22 on Theatre Lane.

A non-student at UNCA received a ban from campus on Sept. 24 after being alerted by a student to university police as a suspicious individual at Gardner Hall and receiving a housing violation. 

There are instances where University Police have been unable to locate reported suspicious individuals or issued verbal warnings to the offenders.

Anderson encourages first-year students to download the Rocky Blue Shield app.

“We have the Rocky Shield app that we encourage at the freshmen orientation every single year to download it and put it on their phone. We explain to them having the Rocky Shield app on their phone is like having an emergency blue light on your phone all the time,” Anderson said.

Anderson said officers offer police escorts if someone feels unsafe.

“We provide safety escorts anywhere on campus and without a reason, up to a certain point off campus like the Verge. If someone feels unsafe or there’s a situation they don’t like, students can call us and University police can provide an escort in a marked police car,” Anderson said.

Detective Whitney Montgomery and Officer Robbie Craig are excited to be at the community fair to deliver information about staying safe on campus and the services that the University Police offer.

According to Anderson, once the reported suspicious individual is identified they are checked for warrants and criminal history.

“Any time students report a suspicious individual, officers immediately try to locate that person. Officers run the individual through the national criminal index database to check for warrants or violent history,” Anderson said. 

Anderson said once University Police ascertain a suspicious person of their business on campus and if the individual isn’t affiliated with UNCA, the individual is escorted off campus.

“Non-residents are not allowed to hang out at campus, trails, or parking lots after dark. If the non-resident doesn’t have a reason to be on campus, they have to go,” Anderson said.

Anderson advises the campus community to say something if they see something out of the ordinary. 

“We try to do education. It goes back to see something, say something. More often than not, it tends to be somebody who is supposed to be there,” Anderson said.

Daran Dodd, the chief of police, asks the campus community to contact University Police if someone has a question about what is suspicious. 

“We ask that if anyone observes something out of the ordinary or what they would consider suspicious that they contact University Police immediately for us to make an inquiry,” Dodd said.

Dodd said the number of suspicious persons reported on the campus is relative to what it is being compared to.

“I cannot definitively say if the number of reports of suspicious persons on our campus is considered high, however, we encourage the campus community to contact University Police as often as needed to report behavior they consider to be out of the ordinary,” Dodd said.

Dodd wants the campus community to be comfortable calling University Police when they see something out of the ordinary.

“We would rather someone report something to University Police than being hesitant to contact University Police,” Dodd said.

Dodd said University Police provide safety opportunities to ensure the protection of the campus community.

“We offer various safety opportunities such as self-defense classes, safety escorts, and general safety educational programming, ” Dodd said.

Austin Kerstetter, a Canton native and a second-year student at UNCA, said he feels safe on campus as the reports of suspicious individuals are noticeable.

“I feel safe, as the university police department maintains a good routine,” Kerstetter said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Blue Banner Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *