Shelton Assumes Police Role
By Erica Plouffe Lazure
Scott Shelton remembers community policing long before anyone thought to call it that.
It’s an approach to campus law enforcement that has brought him 31 years of success at the University of Missouri system, and what he hopes to continue doing as East Carolina University’s new chief of police.
“I take policing seriously and want to make sure we do the best we can to serve the public and our campus community,” said Shelton, who started his post March 15. “It’s important we have a balanced approach to policing and public safety, and to keep the community and administration informed.”
Shelton had spent 25 years making his way through the ranks at the University of Missouri in Columbia’s police department before he was named chief of police at the University of Missouri Kansas City in 2001.
“I’ve been very impressed with the people I’ve met so far,” he said of ECU. “The chancellor, the provost, they all want to do what’s best for the students, as well as for our faculty and staff. One of their top priorities is campus safety.”
Shelton said it’s important for ECU police to engage both the campus and the surrounding community to work together promote safety and to solve problems. Outreach education and crime prevention strategies, Shelton said, are critical parts of solving this problem.
“It’s not just our officers responding to calls for service,” he said. He wants to create more opportunities for ECU police to meet formally and informally with students, faculty, staff, neighbors, as well as their city and county counterparts.
“We need to work hand and hand with all these groups,” he said. “We can’t accomplish our mission without establishing those contacts.”
Shelton hopes to continue to build upon the good community policing work in place at ECU, and possibly find ways to collaborate with other groups to get funding for critical projects and programs. In Kansas City, for example, Shelton had worked with other campus departments to receive a grant to create a satellite police station in an area that had both student and community housing. Another grant paid for officers to work overtime on a traffic laws awareness campaign. Officers would survey traffic in known areas of concern and stop vehicles to inform the drivers of the infractions. Only three percent of all stops, Shelton said, yielded tickets.
“The idea was education,” he said. “We wanted the drivers to become educated about the laws, and so when they were stopped by an officer, they received a copy of the ordinance and an explanation of the infraction.”
In his first few months here, Shelton plans to review the command structure at the police station and find ways to place officers on patrols where they will be most effective, relative to their strengths and interests. He oversees approximately 49 full-time officers, 13 reserve officers, and approximately 10 dispatchers.
Shelton also hopes to work with administrators and students alike to develop a strong community policing approach to campus law enforcement, and to create programs that will help keep people safe and make ECU Police a valuable resource.
“We have to gain the community’s trust and respect, and only then will they begin to have the comfort level to work more closely with us,” Shelton said. “We want our ECU community to have faith in us that we’ll get the job done.”