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ECSU to seek $4M for security upgrades

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By Paul Nielsen
Staff Writer

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Elizabeth City State University officials will ask the state for more money to make security upgrades to the campus. The need for the upgrades is based in part on a shooting at another University of North Carolina system institution last spring.

ECSU Chancellor Karrie Dixon recently briefed the Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners about progress underway at the university. In her presentation, Dixon said she is going to ask the General Assembly next year for $4 million that will be used to install a key-card access system to all academic buildings and residence halls on campus.

ECSU recently installed an additional 200 security cameras on campus. Dixon said that having key-card access to campus buildings became even more necessary after two students were killed and four others were injured in a shooting at UNC-Charlotte last April.

“One thing that solidified it was what happened at UNC-Charlotte and that UNC-Charlotte was able to lock their campus down with a single push of a button,” Dixon said.

ECSU also has beefed up its police force by adding two officers and Dixon said hiring new officers is often difficult. The department currently has 14 full-time police officers and there are two vacancies. The department has 27 full-time employees, including six non-sworn security officers.

“The issue with the officers is competing with city salaries and county salaries across the region,” Dixon said.

A campus police officer recently came up to Dixon while she was eating lunch and told her that the students he encounters have less issues and less problems. Dixon said some of that could stem from the fact that the academic profiles of students is improving. This year’s incoming freshmen class had an average high school GPA of 3.2 and the average ACT score was 19, which was up from 2018.

“He said, ‘I have never seen what I am seeing now on that campus as far as behavior changes,’” Dixon recalled. “We haven’t had any major issues, and I hope that we don’t.”

Being a public institution and the fact that more and more students are staying on campus on weekends, which Dixon said was positive for the university, also present safety challenges.

“We are an open campus and we are open for anybody to come on to campus,” Dixon said. “When I arrived students told me that it was a suit case university and nobody wanted to stay on the weekends. The commitment there is to make sure we are offering engaging opportunities for our students by bring activities back to campus.”

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