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New dorm to house DUPD substation

Better stash that beer--the cops will be your neighbors if you live in the new, recently approved East Campus dormitory.


       Confirmed plans for the dorm include a Duke University Police Department substation on the first floor, in addition to a residence coordinator and the relatively common presence of a faculty-in-residence, a graduate assistant and several resident advisors. While students agreed the beefed-up security and administrative presence might make the area safer, some said they felt the University may have gone a bit too far.


       "I suppose I'd find it a little off-putting," said junior Malcolm Hochenberg. "At the same time, when you're in the real world, there are police stations in neighborhoods."


       The police substation will be the first to be located directly in a dorm, though there are substations on Central Campus, in the Bryan Center, near Epworth Dormitory and in the Mill Building at Erwin Square. Administrators downplayed the relationship between the substation and the dorm, with Residence Life and Housing Services Director Eddie Hull pointing out that the substation is isolated from the rest of the first floor by an electrical and mechanical room and that students will not live on the first floor.


       Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta said the confluence of authority figures in the new dorm was not intentional. "The substation is not even [in practice] a part of the dorm," Moneta said. "[Police] presence will focus on the exterior with the walk. Mainly they'll be watching over the link to Ninth Street."


       Planned along with the new dorm is an expanded and refurbished walkway from the heart of East Campus to the Ninth Street commercial district, with administrators and merchants hoping for more student patronage of local shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. At the same time administrators are encouraging student traffic, they hope to discourage unwanted visitors to campus--hence the substation. The University has suffered several crime incidents in recent years involving trespassers unaffiliated with Duke.


       DUPD Chief Clarence Birkhead hoped the substation would help keep such incidents from occurring. "Having a good presence there--a good visible presence in that area--will hopefully make folks feel safer and deter any crimes of opportunity that may occur," he said.

Sophomore Francesca Tenconi said she thought the substation was a good idea for precisely that reason. "I would feel safer, [what] with a lot of the stuff you read in The Chronicle about people being mugged or harassed," she said.


       The substation could be used in a number of ways, Birkhead said. It could be staffed as needed at particular hours during the day or at night, officers will be able to file reports there and students can drop in with questions or concerns or if they need services rendered. Furthermore, he said, the presence of police cars and bicycles will make the substation even more visible.


       Birkhead denied, however, that the substation would facilitate an underage drinking crackdown on East Campus, where alcohol is officially banned. He held that the DUPD was already enforcing the University's alcohol policies on East.      


Cindy Yee contributed to this article.


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