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UNC-Chapel Hill names new interim police chief. National search will continue.

UNC-CH Police Chief Jeff McCracken, right, speaks during a press conference outside of the UNC Public Safety offices in 2015.
UNC-CH Police Chief Jeff McCracken, right, speaks during a press conference outside of the UNC Public Safety offices in 2015.

UNC-Chapel Hill hired Thomas Younce as interim chief of UNC Police on Wednesday. He replaces Jeff McCracken, who announced his retirement in April.

Younce, who has nearly 44 years of law enforcement experience, will take over the position on July 1. He’s served 15 years in North Carolina campus police forces, including at East Carolina University, N.C. State University, North Carolina A&T State University and Queens University. He was also the interim police chief at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.

Younce “developed a reputation for fostering strong relationships between the police force and their communities” in each of his assignments, UNC said Wednesday in letter signed by Kevin Guskiewicz, interim chancellor; Robert Blouin, executive vice chancellor and provost, and Jonathan Pruitt, vice chancellor for finance and operations.

“We are pleased to welcome Chief Younce to the Carolina family,” the university said. “His decades of experience and skilled leadership will allow him to carry UNC Police forward in the coming weeks as our officers and staff continue to support and protect our students, faculty and staff.”

In addition to serving students, faculty, staff and campus communities, Younce was a captain in the U.S. Air Force, an agent for the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and chief of police for the city of Wilson, North Carolina. His “well-rounded experience” includes responding to emergency calls to provide security details to a U.S. president, the university said. Younce is also an adjunct faculty member at three colleges and universities across the state.

Younce earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Auburn University and a master’s in special studies criminal justice from George Washington University. He’s also trained at UNC-Chapel Hill, N.C. State University, Harvard University and the FBI Academy.

The national search for a permanent police chief is ongoing, and the university said it has found “several strong candidates.” Two candidates have already been to campus, presented on “Campus Policing in the 21st century” and fielded questions from students in open, public forums. Two more candidates are scheduled to come to campus for public forums on July 2.

The search is happening while interim chancellor Guskiewicz puts together a committee to assess campus safety issues, the News & Observer previously reported. That review will include concerns over McCracken’s police department, which faced criticism over the way officers have handled protests centered on Silent Sam, UNC’s Confederate monument.

The university said it plans to hire McCracken’s permanent successor before the start of the academic year.

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