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Student criminal activity not always reported to WS Police Department

By Jaquel Horne, Reporter
On October 20, 2014

On or off campus crimes involving Winston-Salem State students are under the jurisdiction of the Winston-Salem State Campus Police -- a self-contained, fully operating police department.

Student crimes are not reported to the Winston-Salem Police Department unless they involve a homicide or sexual assault.

Campus police do not have the forensic capabilities for those cases, but they assist the WSPD.

"A lot of students think that they [Campus Police] are just University Police Officers…." said Deona Cureton, student conduct director.

"They are actual police officers with guns, badges and everything. Some of them actually used to be with the WSPD."

The campus police undergo training required of all police departments in North Carolina.

WSSU officers have the authority to refer a student’s criminal activity to the Office of Student Conduct, issue a citation or make an arrest.

WSSU police chief, Patricia Norris, makes the decision to send the student offender’s case to be processed in the Forsyth County Courts.

WSPD Captain Christopher Lowder said that getting involved in a WSSU student’s case is a mutual agreement between the city and campus police departments. WSPD has cooperative agreements with Wake Forest University, Salem College and Forsyth Technical Community College.

"When a crime is reported to the WSSU police, the process is the same as if it was reported to the WSPD," Norris said.

"If a WSSU officer makes an arrest, the arrest shows up on the arrestee’s criminal record just as it would if a WSPD officer were to make the arrest."

The Jeanne Clery Act requires all campus police departments to provide access to criminal activity reports.

The Clery Act requires colleges and universities participating in federal student-financial-aid programs to report information on certain crimes committed on and around campus, including on campus-owned property.

The recent adjustments to the Clery Act are additional requirements, including providing students with information, better protecting of victims of sexual assault and clarifying the process for collecting crime statistics.

Office of Student Conduct, keeps a record of student judicial proceedings.

Though all violations are kept on record, not all infractions show on the students’ official transcript. If a WSSU student violates any part of the University’s Zero Tolerance Policy, that student could be suspend or expelled. These actions will be recorded on the official transcript. The Zero Tolerance Policy is located on WSSU’s website.

Any infractions involving sale and distribution of marijuana will more than likely result in both expulsion and jail time.

At the end of the day, we want to keep our students out of the court system, but we cannot keep them out of the court system if they can’t keep themselves out of trouble," Cureton said.

The most extreme punishment given by Student Conduct is expulsion up to five years, during which the student cannot attend any other UNC public institutions, Cureton said.

"Some students benefit from going through Student Conduct. They grow, they learn, they evolve and they don’t have any other infractions. Some students need to go through the court system because they need that tough love, and they need to learn the severity of their actions," she said.

According to Winston-Salem’s online incident reports, the WSPD has assisted in five cases involving WSSU students since the start of fall semester.

Student Conduct tries to keep students from becoming negative statistics because going through the court system possibly makes it harder [for a student] to get a job after graduation, Cureton said.

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