Chapel Hill Police increase security near campus after recent sexual assault and harassment​

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – As parent weekend approaches at the University of Carolina in Chapel Hill, local police departments are increasing security near campus after there have been recent reports of sexual assault and harassment off campus.

According to UNC police, there was a report of sexual harassment outside the Davis Library on Tuesday evening.

Police said a man began making inappropriate comments to some women outside the library and then left.

“I just feel like there’s that unsafe feeling,” Lowman said. “I didn’t even know this was happening.”

Lowman didn’t know about the reported sexual harassment because UNC didn’t send out an alert to students.

The university said verbal harassment didn’t fit the criteria to send out an alert.

“I just feel like that would have been good to know, because I do go to the library often,” Lowman said.

The sexual harassment incident comes less than a week after a reported rape in the parking deck of the Shortbread Lofts off-campus.

“We are definitely getting a lot of calls, there are a lot of concerned parents, there a lot of concerned students,” said Ran Northam, Community Safety Communications Specialist for Chapel Hill police.

On Thursday, CBS 17 received this statement from the Interim Chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill:  

“Our campus recently experienced two disturbing incidents that impacted our community – a violent attack of a student off-campus on September 13 and verbal harassment outside Davis Library on September 17. I know that these types of events cause fear and worry among our students, parents and the entire campus community. We are deeply committed to ensuring that our campus, as well as the surrounding areas, are safe for our students, faculty, staff and visitors. UNC Police are working closely with the Chapel Hill Police Department on the September 13 investigation and have increased both vehicle and foot patrols around campus and the area of the attack in Chapel Hill. We continually make improvements to the safety features around campus, most recently installing more interior locks in classrooms and increasing lighting and cameras in specific areas. I have asked my leadership team to examine the current state of our lights, key fobs and reader systems to determine any needed improvements. Although we employ the best practices followed by other large universities, we will also look at our emergency communication system to ensure it meets the current needs of our community.”

Kevin M. Guskiewicz, Interim Chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill police said there appears to be a growing concern in the community and they plan to work with UNC police to place more resources near campus this weekend.

“Some of those include, officers from Chapel Hill and UNC Police walking together on that downtown central business district to increase the police presence,” Northam said.

Chapel Hill police’s community service division has also begun going to different businesses to make sure they have security cameras in place in case if something were to happen.

Northam said Shortbread Lofts has hired some off duty officers as extra security on their property.

“We want our students, residents, and visitors to know that these resources are there and we want them to know that you have an option to help you in these situations,” Northam said.

UNC police said they do not think the two reported incidents on and off campus are related.

If you have any information on either of these cases, call police.

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