The town of Elon Board of Aldermen discussed litter issues in neighborhoods, recognized two town of Elon police officers and heard from Elon University officials on COVID-19 cases at the agenda-setting meeting on Feb. 9. 

Elon Resident provides public comment on littering

Resident of Elon Michael Gary said he has seen increased amounts of litter on the lawns of homes he claimed were owned by students. 

“My neighborhood looks like a trash pit,” Gary said. “I work in Chapel Hill, I drive through all the neighborhoods of Chapel Hill. There’s more trash in my neighborhood than there [is] in a square mile of Chapel Hill and I can’t figure out why.”

Chief of Town of Elon Police Kelly Blackwelder said she and the police department are aware of the litter issue. Blackwelder said she partnered with Dean of Students Jana Lynn Patterson last week to work on a “knock and talk” campaign, where the two spoke to students living off-campus.

According to assistant town manager Pam DeSoto, contracted code enforcement employees who work approximately 20 hours a week respond to complaints and conduct ride throughs in areas that have had problems with ordinances. The litter ordinance states that it is unlawful to dispose of any type of litter on any public property or private property within town limits that is outside a “designated container.” 

“Part of what I think is occurring is there is a lag time between seeing the issues and the warning or notice or violation going out,” DeSoto said. 

Jeff Stein, chair of the Ready & Resilient committee, and Vice President for Student Life Jon Dooley, who were present at the meeting for a COVID-19 update, said this is a complex issue with a complex solution. Since littering is a property violation, notices could be sent to landlords of the property, rather than to student renters. 

“It’s completely unacceptable,” Stein said. “This is a long-term problem… we’re going to have to sit down and get creative between ordinances and enforcement, the university, landlords, town administration as well as police, This problem can be tackled.”

Gary said other community members would also like to be involved in solving the issue going forward. 

Recognizing town of Elon officers

In addition to public comments, two members of the town of Elon police department were honored with the advanced Law Enforcement Officers’ Professional Certificate Program at the agenda session. The certificate was established by the NC Criminal Justice Education and Training Standards Commission to recognize an officer’s competency of policing, foster interest in college education and professional development and to attract more people to law enforcement careers. 

Kyra O'Connor | Elon News Network
Sgts. Kedrick King and Robert Lovett, who were honored with the advanced Law Enforcement Officers’ Professional Certificate Program, pose with Chief Kelly Blackwelder.

To receive the award, officers go through many training sessions geared toward an officer’s goal, such as leadership training, interview and interrogation training and racial equity training. 

“What we’ve been known for is getting our officers in those trainings,” Blackwelder said. “You got to some agencies and they don’t have that opportunity. I know that was the case for me when I came here from another agency.”

Sgt. Kedrick King, who received the certificate, has been with the Elon police department for three and a half years but was an officer with campus police for nine years. King received his master's degree in criminal justice last year and has over 600 hours of outside professional training.

Sgt. Robert Lovett was the other recipient of a certificate,and has been with the town of Elon Police Department for five and a half years and has over 20 years of experience, part of which at the Graham Police Department. Blackwelder said Lovett will be the university liaison officer and has over 1200 professional training hours. Upon receiving his certificate, Lovett said Blackwelder inspired him to go after the certificate in the first place.

University update on COVID-19

Stein gave the board a university update, reminding board members that they are welcome to contact senior staff such as himself, Dooley and Susan Kirkland, interim chief financial officer for the university. 

Stein also spoke briefly about the university COVID-19 dashboard and increased testing, including planning for the university to be able to offer free COVID-19 testing to town employees and downtown business owners who interact with students, in the future.