City police won’t set up a substation on Shaw University’s campus, as the school requested.
Mayor Nancy McFarlane said late Tuesday that city officials had told Shaw President Tashni-Ann Dubroy that they won’t pursue a substation at Shaw or any college campus.
“We’ve had conversations with her; there’s not going to be a substation on your campus,” McFarlane told students opposed to the idea at the City Council meeting Tuesday night.
She elaborated about the decision Wednesday morning, noting that the police department believes the area around Shaw is already well-patrolled.
“Staff talked about it, and it’s not anything we can do. It’s too complicated,” McFarlane said. She added that she hopes to work with Dubroy in other ways to improve student-police relations.
Dubroy sent a letter to McFarlane in late September asking for the Raleigh Police Department to consider opening a small office on the university’s downtown Raleigh campus. A larger police presence could reduce crime and help students build a better relationship with officers, even as tensions between the black and law enforcement communities are mounting nationwide.
The idea for a substation was unpopular among many students. And the announcement comes after about half-a-dozen of them joined the Raleigh Police Accountability Community Task Force on Tuesday night to ask the City Council to, among other things, reject Shaw’s idea.
“For us, more police doesn’t equal more safety,” said Essence Shelton, who said she’s a Shaw junior. “It doesn’t secure our future, it doesn’t build leaders for Raleigh.”
Shelton argued that a larger police presence would only serve to further strain student relationships with police. Niesha Lyons, a 22-year-old Shaw student from Durham, agreed that a substation is a bad idea.
Shaw already has security guards and campus police, who she says are more familiar with students. City police “are automatically going to assume there is something negative going on if they see a black man with sagging pants,” Lyons said.
Some in the community liked the idea of a Shaw substation. Gary Abra, a Raleigh resident who said he works for St. Augustine’s University, said he hoped an increased police presence would help students focus more on school than crime.
“Hopefully, they can spread it to all HBCUs,” Abra said during Tuesday’s meeting, referring to historically-black colleges and universities.
Dubroy, for her part, said she’s looking forward to working with the city on other ideas that keep the Shaw community safe. Dubroy wrote her letter to McFarlane about a week after police found a man shot to death just off campus at South Blount and East Lenoir streets.
“To me, it’s really about solving a problem. I still need to have forums. I still need Raleigh PD to be familiar with our students,” she said. “The conversation will continue because we’ve got a problem to fix.”