Morgan State University officials said Saturday they have promoted campus police Chief Adrian J. Wiggins to the new post of chief public safety officer, in which he will explore changes to campus safety and emergency management systems.
The move comes two months after a student was accused of dismembering a family friend and eating his heart and some of his brain.
University President David Wilson said the new post will involve issues such as security of university laboratories, pedestrian traffic on the campus and relations with nearby neighborhoods. The university will soon begin a search for a new police chief, he said.
Wilson said the change was not in response to the case of Alexander Kinyua, the man accused of cannibalism. Months before, university officials had flagged Kinyua for alarming behavior.
"The chief of police has his hands full with ensuring we have a really solid and effective police department, but we did not have a chief public safety officer the way many universities would have," Wilson said. "We want safe neighborhoods where residents feel absolutely safe in walking the streets at 9 o'clock at night or 10 o'clock at night."
The new Office of Campus and Public Safety will explore "long-term priorities for campus safety, emergency management, risk management, access control, [and] early detection systems," an email from the administration to the university community said.
Kinyua, 21, was arrested after his brother found the head and hands of victim Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie in the basement of the Kinya Family's Joppatowne home May 30. Five months earlier, Kinyua's erratic behavior led a university instructor to call Kinyua "a Virginia Tech waiting to happen," referring to the 2007 shootings that left 33 people dead, including the killer.
Morgan State officials have declined to comment on Kinyua's case and its connection to the campus. Wiggins could not be reached for comment.
One community advocate welcomed the change, saying neighborhood leaders have had little interaction with campus police.
"I think that's a great step," said Matt Hohner, police liaison for the Lauraville Improvement Association. "They've kind of been their own separate entity when it comes to dealing with their own issues of public safety. They are acknowledging their public safety and ours are one in the same."
Lance Hatcher will serve as interim campus police chief while a nationwide search for a permanent chief is conducted.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times