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UNC-Chapel Hill’s new Chief of Police announced, students question choice

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has a new Chief of Police.

But the choice is already a controversial one.

David Perry was announced as the next UNC-Chapel Hill Chief of Police Monday.

Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz announced late Monday that David L. Perry will serve as the new assistant vice chancellor and chief of UNC Police beginning Sept. 3.

Perry comes to UNC from Florida State University, where his tenure as chief of police included criticism of the handling of two rape allegations against Jameis Winston, then FSU’s quarterback and later a player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The handling of the 2012 rape allegations and Perry’s actions specifically were criticized at the time. The controversy was the subject of reports from the New York Times and featured in the Emmy nominated documentary “The Hunting Ground,” about the epidemic of sexual assaults on American college campuses.

The Times investigation found “there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.”

“The police did not follow the obvious leads that would have quickly identified the suspect as well as witnesses, one of whom videotaped part of the sexual encounter,” the Times report said. “After the accuser identified Mr. Winston as her assailant, the police did not even attempt to interview him for nearly two weeks and never obtained his DNA.”

Prosecutor William Meggs said the investigation was badly mishandled from the beginning. Charges were not filed. Winston was eventually cleared of violating the student conduct code by an FSU hearing in which retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Major B. Harding said he did “not find the credibility of one story substantially stronger than that of the other.”

Winston and his accuser filed civil suits against each other which were ultimately settled out of court.

The student who alleged she was raped sued FSU, claiming  the university “in concert with Tallahassee Police, took steps to ensure that Winston’s [alleged] rape of plaintiff would not be investigated either by the university or law enforcement.”

The university settled the suit for $950,000.

Winston went on to have a series of legal and disciplinary problems, including a three game suspension in 2018 for the alleged groping of a female Uber driver.

No mention of the rape investigation controversy was made in Guskiewicz’s message to the community.

“Chief Perry joins us from Florida State University and brings to Carolina a distinguished 25-year career in law enforcement and campus safety,” the statement read. “He has embraced community policing and has demonstrated success in building relationships between campus police and the community. 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.”

Perry will oversee a department that currently has 53 full-time, sworn police officers.

Prominent student activists, already frustrated with police policies on campus, are decrying the choice online.

 

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