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On Dec. 3-5, UNC-Chapel Hill hosted 14 universities for the annual convening of the Atlantic Coast Conference University Emergency Management and Police Conference. The yearly meeting brings together institutions to share best practices, current trends and new practices as they relate to emergency preparedness and management on campuses across the ACC. NC State University was a conference co-host, and the attendees split their time among the two campuses.

The three-day conference included presentations from UNC-Chapel Hill leaders, including:

  • Derek Kemp, associate vice chancellor for campus safety and risk management
  • Darrell Jeter, director of emergency management and planning
  • Jeff McCracken, UNC police chief
  • Matthew Mauzy, emergency response technology manager
  • Teresa Scaggs, employee management and relations consultant

Previous meetings were organized solely for emergency management professionals from the ACC campuses, but conference co-coordinator Darrell Jeter said that campus police chiefs were included in this year’s conference because the work of the two areas is so intertwined.

“Having the chiefs in the room and hearing about their perspective and needs helps inform emergency managers on how to support them in the field,” said Jeter.

UNC Police Chief Jeff McCracken also found value in the collaboration with emergency managers, referring to the conference as a “unique opportunity.”

“Hearing how similar concerns are addressed at other campuses from both a police and an emergency management perspective provided an invaluable learning experience,” McCracken said.

Emergency managers from ACC schools have had annual meetings for more than five years, and they are finding it increasingly beneficial to share experiences among a diverse set of institutions that have similar needs, according to Todd Becker, emergency manager for NC State’s Department of Emergency Management and Mission Continuity, and co-coordinator of this year’s conference.

“Our goal was that attendees would leave this year’s meeting not only with novel emergency preparedness approaches that can be applied back on their campuses, but with a renewed sense of connectedness to their colleagues,” said Becker. “Building relationships among partners at neighboring schools better prepares us for emergency planning and provides a base that makes us feel comfortable reaching out to colleagues throughout the year.”

As part of the agenda, Carolina and N.C. State shared recent emergency management experiences with their colleagues. At Carolina, staff led discussions on recent hurricane impacts and protests. Incorporating and managing the latest technology was a prominent theme, including discussions of drone technology and security cameras.

“An opportunity, and sometimes a challenge, is effectively incorporating modern, ever changing technology into how we render our service to our primary customers, the students,” said Jeter.

While sharing technical expertise and information was a primary goal of the gathering, Jeter said he believes sharing mutual experiences was equally as important.

“Our strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are not entirely unique,” Jeter said. “We improve at our respective campuses by being willing to share our successes and failures and gleaning from one another.”

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