Updated Oct. 14 at 10:46 a.m. to include information on the previous police chief search.
Elon University restarted the search for a new chief of police and director of campus safety this fall. The position — which has been open since January — became available after the previous EUPD director, Dennis Franks, stepped down to become the police chief of Stallings, North Carolina. Doug Dotson currently serves as interim director.
Last year, the search for a new police chief took place in March, with four final candidates presenting on campus. According to Owen Covington, university spokesperson, Elon was “ultimately unable to identify” a new chief of police last spring, and the process was put on hold. The search this year is restarted, and the university is using the search firm Developmental Associates.
Kelli Shuman, associate vice president for human resources and the chair of the search committee, said the committee leads the recruitment and interview process. Administrators, faculty and members of both Town of Elon and campus police, as well as undergraduate and graduate student representatives make up the 11 member search committee.
In her role as the undergraduate student representative, junior Deena Elrefai said she has been able to bring student perspectives to the committee, making sure the committee is talking to students about the search for the new chief of police.
“I want students to know that if you want something out of this or want to add something, contact somebody,” Elrefai said. “I want to hear from students. I want to know what they want because this does impact all of us and it will impact all of us.”
Elrefai said as a woman of color she values a candidate who has “a strong background” in diversity, equity and inclusion work. While there are other qualities she is looking for, Elrefai said the ability of a candidate to grow and change, and to hear student perspectives and feedback are the most important and timely to her.
“I feel like it’s a really exciting time to be doing a process like this, especially in the field that it’s in,” Elrefai said. “All the conversations we’ve been having around systemic racism and police violence and the protest in Graham and the mutual aid agreement, it’s really exciting to see such a catalyst for change happening at a time where so much is.”
Graduate student Jordan Patterson, who serves as the graduate student representative, said he is also looking for diversity and a sense of community base in the next chief of police.
Patterson said as a graduate student representative, he is able to represent a different demographic of people within the Elon community. Patterson said he would like a chief of police who engages and familiarizes themselves with graduate students.
Once the candidate is chosen, Patterson said Elon community members need to remain engaged and lead by example as a community when it comes to what they want to see out of the position.
“This process is not a cookie cutter process, and it is not a one size fits all type process,” Patterson said. “We have to pick the person that we deem appropriate at the time, and we have to keep proactive.”
A survey for campus feedback regarding the position profile for the new chief of police collected data through Oct. 11, and Shuman said the committee has had a few feedback sessions with students, faculty and staff as well. The survey invited public comment regarding topics such what respondents think are the biggest challenges facing the Elon University police department in its relationship community and what are important competencies of the chief of police.
The search firm will finalize the position profile this week. Shuman said the goal is to have candidates on campus for interviews by December, which Shuman said students will be invited to participate in, and for the committee to thereafter select a finalist.