Updated: Message from Gerald Whittington about mutual aid response by Elon University Police in Graham

UPDATED June 29: This follow-up message sent to Elon faculty and staff on Monday, June 29, from Senior Vice President Gerald Whittington offers a response to feedback from members of the Elon community following Elon University Police's response to the Graham Police Department's request for assistance on June 27.

Updated, Monday, June 29

Dear colleagues,

Thanks to those who shared their concerns about Elon’s response to the request for police assistance by the Graham, N.C., police department on Saturday. Some cited concerns about the city’s decision not to issue a protest permit and others expressed their ongoing concerns about law enforcement policies and actions within Alamance County. I understand these issues and recognize their importance within the broader context of what has taken place in our nation.

I was heartened to note that there has been no criticism of Elon Campus Safety and Police personnel. The department has achieved the highest standards of accreditation for campus police departments (IACLEA) and conducts regular, broad-based and intensive training to meet our community’s expectations of professionalism, safety and service. I appreciate the respect our campus has for Acting Chief Doug Dotson and the officers and staff of the department who work hard to keep our community safe every day.

Mutual Aid agreements among law enforcement agencies are essential to ensuring public safety. No single agency can have the staff and resources it would need to handle major emergencies that threaten the safety of our community or manage the demands of large-scale events. Public safety agencies must work together to protect and serve everyone.

With that in mind, I have asked Academic Council Chair Lee Bush and Staff Council Chair Doug Purnell to appoint several representatives to join me, along with Acting Chief Dotson and the university’s legal counsel, in reviewing Elon’s existing mutual aid agreement as well as current best practices for campus police departments when engaging with external agencies. Our goal will be to more fully understand the nature, benefits and requirements of agreements among law enforcement agencies and consider how improvements might be made.

This recent issue prompts us to undertake a necessary review and I appreciate your responsiveness to ensure Elon is doing what is right for the safety and rights of all of us.


Gerald Whittington

Senior Vice President and Interim Vice President for Business, Finance and Technology


Original message sent Sunday, June 28

I am writing to provide details and answers to a number of questions that have arisen about why Elon University Police were present in Graham on Saturday.

To be clear — our officers responded to the request for assistance from the Graham Police Department, which reached out for help to assure the safety of all citizens. Our officers were not in Graham to protect the Confederate monument nor were they present to deter peaceful protests from taking place. Rather, their primary goal was to protect the safety of anyone in Graham on Saturday to engage in peaceful protest as well as bystanders. As you may know, last weekend, while Elon University Police were not present, two Elon faculty members were attacked while documenting a peaceful protest in Graham.

Elon University Police participates in a law enforcement mutual aid agreement with police departments and the sheriff’s office in Alamance County. Elon University Police received a request for support under the agreement from the Graham Police Department in anticipation of protestors and counter-protestors who were expected to converge in Graham on Saturday. Eight Elon University Police officers arrived in Graham at 10 a.m. and were released at 7 p.m. They were joined by members of many other local and state law enforcement agencies. All officers were asked to keep pedestrians from loitering on the sidewalk in the interest of everyone’s safety.

Elon University Police has participated in the law enforcement mutual aid agreement since the 1990s, and it has proved to be a valuable tool to our department in ensuring the safety the campus community. Through the agreement, officers from other agencies have assisted Elon University Police at athletics events, visits by dignitaries and emergencies. Though mutual aid has been helpful to our campus in the past, we will continue to critically assess the value and wisdom of each individual request from member agencies going forward.

We do not take our participation in this mutual aid agreement lightly, and appreciate the feedback on how policies such as these impact the university.

Gerald O. Whittington

Senior Vice President and Interim Vice President for Business, Finance and Technology