UNC-Chapel Hill hires new police chief focused on community policing, rebuilding trust

David Perry, the new UNC Chief of Police
David Perry, the new UNC Chief of Police Provided by UNC-Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has hired David Perry as the new chief of police and assistant vice chancellor, the university announced Monday.

Perry, who has been chief at Florida State University for 14 years, has 25 years of experience in law enforcement and campus safety.

He is UNC’s first black police chief and was selected after a national search to succeed Jeff McCracken, who retired in July after 30 years of service. Perry will start Sept. 3.

“I am beyond excited to be joining the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill community,” Perry said in a statement. “It will take gentle restless effort from the entire campus community to move our department forward. I look forward to putting in the work needed to accomplish this important goal.”

At FSU, Perry “embraced community policing and has demonstrated success in building relationships between campus police and the community,” UNC interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz said in an announcement Monday.

“Through my many conversations with him, I know he is looking forward to expanding that philosophy at Carolina and is committed to ensuring his department has access to the latest in law enforcement training, education, technology and professional development,” Guskiewicz said.

The UNC Police Department employs 53 full-time sworn police officers and provides 24/7 patrol services on campus and university property. Perry also will work with the newly established campus safety commission, which is made up of 20 members of the UNC faculty, staff, student body and local community to help the university rebuild the trust between the campus, community and police force.

That commission was established in part to review concerns over McCracken’s police department, which faced criticism over how officers handled protests of the Silent Sam Confederate statue. The statue was torn down by activists last year after a series of protests.

In the letter, Guskiewicz said UNC was set on finding someone with “a proven track record in community policing and strong experience building communication and trust.”

During his tenure at Florida State, Perry introduced several new public safety initiatives, according to the university. He started the Adopt-A-Cop program, which connects students and police officers, and the Citizens Police Academy, which educates students and employees on how the department operates and how officers respond to calls.

He also has experience in campus emergency situations, the university said, including running safety operations during three hurricanes and directing the response and recovery to an active shooter.

In addition to his role as police chief in Florida, Perry served as president for the North Florida Chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, president for the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators and past president for the Florida Police Chiefs Association.

Perry also served as deputy chief of police at Clemson University and Albany State University’s police chief. He earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s in public administration from Albany State.

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