Shaw University split over idea of Raleigh PD substation

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An idea for a Raleigh PD substation on campus sounds good to administrators, but some students are wary.

A battle is brewing at Shaw University between students and the administration about an idea to put a Raleigh Police substation on campus. Administrators say it's to keep students safe. Whereas students say, it's a guise for more surveillance.

Shaw administrators cited more policing, a greater sense of safety, and bettering police relations with staff, students, and the immediate community as good reasons for the substation.

One student's response: "I feel it would cause more havoc," said liberal arts major Dimir Speight.

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More than a year ago, Shaw administrators felt the need to improve relations on campus. During their brainstorming, the idea of a substation came about and the school approached the City of Raleigh.

Shaw University already has a campus police station made up of four sworn officers. The department also regularly works with Raleigh PD and receives assistance from deputy officers from the Wake County Sheriff's Office. With Shaw being a private university, administrators needed to submit a request to the Raleigh city council about a taxpayer funded substation on campus. Ultimately, the final decision rests in the votes of the council.

District C Councilmember Corey Branch spoke with ABC11 by phone Friday. Branch says the university and the council are "early in the process" and a vote to put a substation on campus is not on the agenda as of yet and no decision has been made.

"Preliminary things need to take place first," Branch said. He also said it is possible Shaw administrators could change their mind and decide an RPD substation is no longer needed for whatever reason.

Gregory Patterson, a junior at Shaw, doesn't welcome an RPD substation and says he believes campus police have a strong bond with students.

"(Campus police), they kind of already know us because they see us on a day to day," Patterson said. "So they know if we get into a situation, how to handle the situation."

Patterson also believes the culture between police and Shaw students wouldn't improve if a substation popped up on campus.

"I believe sometimes Raleigh Police Department sometimes ... portrays us as not always students," Patterson said.

But freshman student Vendela Safford, who moved to Raleigh from Boston, says Shaw University police could use the extra help.

They just need to do better at their job to be honest," Safford said. If (campus police) did better, we wouldn't have the shootings and stuff happening around here."

REPORTED CRIME AT SHAW FROM 2006-2015 (.pdf)

ABC11 reached out to Shaw University and Raleigh PD for 2016 crime statistics on campus and on a 100-foot buffer within campus borders. Neither had 2016 figures readily available but according to Shaw University's Clery Report, 2015 data shows a total of 125 criminal offenses - with the most common offenses being for drug violations (37), simple assault (16), "all other offenses" (16), and larceny (8).

Organizers with Common Cause North Carolina have created a petition addressed to Raleigh councilmembers against an RPD substation entitled, "Protect HBCU's from biased policing and surveillance," and plan to deliver it Tuesday at the city council meeting. Organizers hope to collect 500 signatures for the petition.

Sophomore student Aaliyah Brown said she feels administrators should scrub the idea of a substation on campus.

"I just say don't do it. Let the students live a little bit," Brown said.

Dr. Stanley Elliott, Shaw's Vice President of Student Affairs, released a statement nearly two weeks ago defending the university's decision for an RPD substation.

The statement reads in part, "This request came on the heels of national attention given to police related shootings in underserved communities across the country. To date, talks are still ongoing, however no concrete plans have been made nor has a timeline been established for bringing any proposed concepts into fruition."

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