ECU Police Chief Talks Campus Safety & Security Ahead Of Students Return

In just about a week new wave of ECU freshman and students make their return to Greenville, and for those new students, it's a new chapter of not only learning, but freedom.

ECU police want students to embrace that new freedom as safely as possible.

Chief Gerald Lewis says, "These are probably going to be some of the best years of their lives -- I want them to enjoy it safely -- and I just want safety to be a part of that educational process."

Lewis wants those freshmen -- and returning students -- to be proactive in not becoming a victim of crime. He says, "I think the most important thing we want our students to remember is they have to be aware of their environment. A lot of times crimes are created by opportunity. We want to reduce the opportunities for anyone to actually commit a crime here on our campus."

Tyler Tharrington is a rising senior and knows what the chief is talking about. He says, "It usually happens around 3:00 in the morning -- someone is walking by themselves -- these guys show up and they get robbed."

Lewis says with around 1,300 cameras and panic stations around campus -- technology will be aiding in keeping students safe.

When it comes to alcohol, Lewis says, "We are certainly going to talk responsibility as far as drinking -- we certainly aren't going to condone underage drinking -- but we want them to be aware of the dangers of drinking alcohol -- and sometimes drinking alcohol can put you in predicaments you don't want to be regarding safety."

Rising senior Khiana Wyatt says, "I can't tell anyone not to drink -- you're going to do what you want to do but -- drink responsibly and drink with people who you trust -- because you never know -- you could wake up in a bathroom somewhere."

It's within the last few years that the subject of sexual assaults and their handling by college campuses around the country has come into question.

Lewis says that his department will be treating those with the utmost importance. He says, "One of the things I implemented as soon as I got here on campus was the fact that if there's an allegation or sexual assault that occurs -- I am to be called -- so that starts at the top. We have a number of groups here at the university who are working on that to streamline the process to make it easier to report."

One thing the Pirate faithful may notice at ECU football games is a new mobile unit Chief Lewis says the department will be using to coordinate with other agencies like the Pitt County Sheriff's Office and Greenville police, in the event of an incident.