CFCC focuses on improving campus security

WILMINGTON – Cape Fear Community College is taking significant steps to provide a greater level of safety for students, employees and visitors.

Next month, the college will hire an independent security consultant to review the overall safety of each campus location in New Hanover and Pender counties. This comprehensive study will include an assessment of college facilities, the surrounding environment, current college safety procedures and potential security risks. The results of this study will be used to create a campus-wide security plan which will help to create the safest college environment possible for all students and employees. The results of the study will also be used to guide the operation of a newly-approved CFCC Campus Police Department.

Last week, the CFCC Board of Trustees met and approved a proposal to introduce an on-campus police department which will greatly enhance the level of security on campus. These personnel will have the authority to fully enforce the law and college policies, and will provide general safety-related assistance to staff, faculty and students.

CFCC President Dr. Ted Spring expressed his appreciation of the trustees’ support of campus security.

“Our board clearly understands the importance of providing a secure campus at CFCC. This is a major step forward to ensure the safest environment possible for our students and employees, ” Dr. Spring said.

College officials say that while it will take several months for the department to become fully operational, efforts are currently underway to request approval from the state and develop an overall strategy for the new department.

CFCC’s Assistant Director of Campus Safety Dan Wilcox has been appointed as CFCC’s chief of police and he is the primary point of contact for all campus security resources.

Wilcox explained that his primary mission is two-fold.

“We want to make sure that we take all the necessary steps to promote campus safety and prevent problems from occurring in the first place. However, when incidents occur, we want to be ready to respond a quickly as possible,” Wilcox said.

Wilcox stated that one of the biggest advantages of having a dedicated police department on campus is the ability to fully respond to a wide variety of incidents.

“In any type of emergency, time is critical. These officers will have the authority to serve as first responders to a wide variety of incidents,” Wlilcox said.

In addition to hiring the police chief, the college will initially hire one lieutenant, one sergeant and five officers. All police officers at CFCC will be required to follow the same training, background checks and other standards mandated by the N.C. Department of Justice for all state professional law enforcement officers.

Until the college has the funding to hire a sufficient number of dedicated CFCC police officers to handle all of its security needs, security personnel from a private security firm along with resource officers from the Wilmington Police Department and the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office will continue to play a role in campus security.

According to CFCC’s Vice President of Business Services Camellia Rice, the college can begin hiring staff using funds that are currently available in the operational budget. The current budget for campus security is $555, 868 a year and is funded through a combination of student fees and funding from the state and county.

As the sixth largest community college in the state with over 27,000 students, CFCC would join 15 other colleges that have their own police force. These colleges include the top five largest colleges along with some of the smaller colleges with enrollment just a fraction of the size of CFCC. Wake Tech, which has over 58,000 students per year has a police force. So does Brunswick Community College, with only 7,400 students.