Barnwell to move to UNC System law enforcement role

Chief Jon Barnwell is stepping down as East Carolina University’s police chief to work with the UNC System Office of Safety and Enterprise Risk Management team. In his new role, Barnwell will focus on further improving campus safety and security across all 17 campuses in the UNC System.

The UNC System Office’s Safety and Enterprise Risk Management team provides guidance to the 17 constituent institutions in the areas of campus safety and security, enterprise risk management, and continuity planning, and serves as a direct liaison between the institutions and local, state, federal and private agency partners.

“I am proud of my time at ECU, and the progress we made together to further enhance safety on campus,” Barnwell said. “I am excited for this new opportunity and the ability to provide assistance to all the campuses within the UNC System.”

Barnwell started at ECU on Sept. 1, 2017, coming from Tulane University in New Orleans. He began his role in the UNC System Office as of Aug. 11, 2023.

“We appreciate Chief Barnwell’s work to keep our campus safe during his more than five years at ECU,” said Bill Koch, associate vice chancellor for campus safety and auxiliary services. “He has been a leader on several UNC System committees during his time at ECU. We look forward to seeing him use his considerable experience to assist UNC campuses in continuing to improve safety and security.”

Capt. Elizabeth “Beth” Watkins, Support Services Division, will serve as acting chief, according to Koch. ECU Police Deputy Chief Jason Sugg is serving as interim chief at the Elizabeth City State University Police Department as it completes a search for a new police chief.

Watkins, who leads the Support Services Division, has been an ECU police officer since 1995 serving in a variety of supervisory and management roles. She earned her undergraduate degree in criminal justice and her Master of Public Administration from ECU. She also completed the Administrative Officers Management Program in 2011, has served as an AOMP Alumni Board Member since 2018 and is first vice president of the board.

The ECU Police Department employs more than 60 sworn officers along with civilian staff. The department is dually accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) and by the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.