The committee to review the mutual aid agreement between Elon University Police and local law enforcement has recommended that the university stay in an agreement. According to the list of recommendations, it is “imperative to have broad mutual aid agreements.” The current recommendations are not finalized, according to Executive Vice President Steven House, who is filling in for Gerald Whittington as chair.
The current mutual aid agreement between the Elon University Police and seven other Alamance County law enforcement agencies is in effect until Dec. 31, 2020, but the agreement has been renewed annually since the 1990s. The agreement requires Elon University Police to assist other agencies when aid is requested and the department has the capacity to help and vice versa.
The mutual aid agreement came under scrutiny this summer after EUPD responded to multiple requests for aid at the Confederate monument in Graham. The city of Graham restricted protests at the Confederate monument, but a court has since prohibited blocking protesters from gathering at the monument.
The nine-member committee currently has three core recommendations and a suggestion regarding EUPD’s involvement at protests near the Confederate monument in Graham. The committee said in their recommendation that EUPD will not provide protection to the Confederate monument.
“The EUPD will not provide direct protection of the Confederate Monument in the Courthouse Square of Graham at the Courthouse, but may provide traffic control support, including along the route of a march,” the recommendation reads. “This response fulfills the expectation of the mutual aid agreement. However, should events result in extreme threat to life or property; it would be any sworn officer’s responsibility under their oath to respond.”
House told Elon News Network that the university needs to be in a mutual aid agreement in case an emergency or disaster happens on campus. House said the committee is also considering having separate mutual aid agreements — outside of the Alamance County agreement — with law enforcement agencies that align with the proposed social justice and racial equity goals.
Elon senior and Student Government Association Executive Secretary Sydney Hallisey, who was the only student representative on the committee, addressed student concerns on the relationship with the Alamance County Sheriff’s Department.
“Their concerns are absolutely valid and they have every right to feel the way that they do, and while the recommendations from the review committee probably will not immediately solve all of their concerns, we're moving in the right direction and everyone on the committee has heard those concerns,” she said. “Unfortunately, because of the way police departments work in bureaucracy in this country, it is going to take a while before we can make any lasting change.”
The other recommendations include using a consulting agency to advise the department on its structure. The committee also suggests developing social justice and racial equity goals that can be implemented in reports, training and other areas.
Hallisey said there’s more work to be done by the committee on the mutual aid agreement and advancing the social justice goals.
“We've got some long-term goals that we're working into the agreement and the police department and also the relationship between the police department and the campus community as well. Those are some, some long-term goals, to change the way all of this works,” Hallisey said.
The committee further suggested that EUPD use the consulting agency to develop these goals and to collaborate with Alamance County law enforcement agencies on these goals. The committee also outlined a list of principles to follow when taking actions that impact the department.
According to Owen Covington, director of Elon University News Bureau, the committee’s recommendations will be given to President Connie Book, who will make a decision on the mutual aid agreement. House said that Book has not received the committees final recommendations.