Like the rest of the campus community, I was shocked and saddened by the senseless shooting that left an ECU student and another innocent bystander dead in downtown Greenville. On behalf of the university, I extend our deepest sympathy and condolences to the families and friends of the victims.
In times such as these, as we search for answers and wonder what we should perhaps do differently, it is important to remember that East Carolina University is a safe campus. This is especially important for parents to know as they bring new students to campus for orientation sessions. Yes, we have crime and occasional violence on and near our campus, but those events are more a reflection of the society we live in than a constant threat to our students, employees and visitors. The university's annual crime and safety report, required by federal law, is available at this link: Annual Security Report.
We work every day to make the campus a safer environment. We have, for instance, in recent years invested in new technology that enables us to better communicate with individuals on campus and with neighboring law enforcement agencies (outdoor speakers; video message boards; VOIP telephones; text-messaging systems; new radio systems). We have increased the number and visibility of our police officers. We have hired a new police chief and are working on a reorganization of our campus safety reporting lines.
We have also ramped up our training and preparedness: We have conducted joint exercises with other law-enforcement agencies both on and off-campus in preparation for such incidents as chemical spills and active shooters. We have developed detailed plans for other safety threats such as the pandemic flu.
And we are pleased with the commitment and action of the city of Greenville in dealing with crime in the city. Since William Anderson arrived in Greenville as chief of the city's police force three years ago, he has made great strides in confronting crime throughout the city. He has initiated anti-gang efforts and he has increased downtown patrols. Cooperation between ECU Police and the Greenville force has never been greater; Chief Anderson has noted that GPD has "a great working relationship" with the ECU force. It is also important to note that the Greenville mayor is a retired ECU faculty member and one member of the City Council is a member of our faculty. Obviously they are committed to a safe environment for their university.
In closing, I believe that Bill Koch, our associate vice chancellor for environmental health and safety, summarized the current situation very well when he said:
"Continuous improvement is the foundation of our safety programs at ECU. Every incident requires us to assess our plans and make the necessary adjustments to help our students stay safe.
"As we mourn our loss, we strengthen our safety commitment to our students and their families. We have already begun this process by working with the Greenville Police Department and other campus units to assess and further improve safety for our students on campus and in the surrounding area."