Duke re-thinking security after rash of armed robberies
Posted August 27, 2013
Durham, N.C. — Duke University says it's considering blocking access to its campus at certain locations and closing off parts at night in an effort to increase security following a series of armed robberies.
The latest was Sunday around 10 p.m. when two men were robbed of their cellphones, laptops and credit cards outside William R. Perkins Library on Chapel Drive.
Last month, three people were robbed on two separate occasions near the entrance of Sarah P. Duke Gardens on Lewis Street.
Duke's vice president of administration, Kyle Cavanaugh, says that, after security issues in the spring, the university re-evaluated its staffing levels and physical security and increased resources in both areas.
"We’ve now taken a step back and said, 'What else? What are some other steps we can take?'" Cavanaugh said.
Security officials are considering closing off at night roads that can be used to cut through campus, including Towerview Drive on Duke's West Campus.
But students say they aren't sure whether restricting access to campus is the best way to approach the matter.
"It would make me feel safer," said student Courtney Harris. "At the same time, I think it would be a tad inconvenient."
In addition to the issue of convenience, some students say they worry about what it could mean to those around the university.
"Sending a message like that to the Durham community is a big problem," said Matthew Ross, a Ph.D. student who says he feels safe on campus. "I don't think that's the way to solve it."
But Cavanaugh says that the changes are only being considered right now, but that the university's "first and absolute priority is the safety of our students, our faculty, our staff and our visitors."
Any changes approved could, however, be in place by the end of this year.
"All of these moves are incredibly challenging balances," Cavanaugh said. "Over the last couple of months when we've had these robberies, that's an aberration. We haven't seen a trend like that here in the last couple of years."
Authorities arrested two people in connection with last month's robberies, but they are still looking for a man in Sunday night's crime who was wearing a red bandana over his face and carrying a silver handgun. He was last seen running toward Science Drive.
Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call Duke University Police at 919-684-2444.