McCracken, School of Public Health alumnus, tapped for UNC public safety post

July 27, 2007
Lt. Col. Jeff McCracken, deputy director of the Department of Public Safety at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and alumnus of the School of Public Health, has been named the university’s director of public safety and chief of police.

McCracken, a law enforcement veteran with more than 15 years’ experience, will take the helm of a department with a $25 million budget and responsibility for law enforcement, security, traffic and parking, transit and transportation planning on Aug. 1. The department includes 200 permanent and 100 temporary employees, including 25 sworn reserve police officers and 52 full-time sworn officers.

In naming McCracken to the position, Carolyn Elfland, associate vice chancellor for campus services, acknowledged McCracken’s extensive knowledge of public safety and his thorough understanding of the UNC campus community.

“Without a doubt, Jeff McCracken is the best person to lead our public safety department,” Elfland said. “With his comprehensive understanding of the vital role public safety plays in an academic setting and his long-term commitment to our campus, he brings a unique set of skills to the position.”

McCracken, who joined the university department in 1993 as an investigator, quickly rose through the ranks, becoming operations major in 1997 and deputy director in 1998. He has served as interim director of the department since March 2007. McCracken succeeds Derek Poarch, who was appointed bureau chief for the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission.

“I am deeply honored to have been selected as the chief of police and director of the UNC Department of Public Safety,” McCracken said. “I look forward to working with the Department of Public Safety employees and members of the university community to build upon what is already an outstanding organization.”

McCracken holds a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Appalachian State University and a master of public administration degree from N.C. State University. He is a graduate of the Administrative Officers’ Management Program at N.C. State University and two professional programs at Carolina – the School of Government’s Law Enforcement Executive Program and the School of Public Health’s Community Preparedness and Disaster Management Program. He also serves as the president of the N.C. Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

“This is an exciting time in the life of the university as we continue to prepare for growth and how best to support it,” Elfland said. “With Jeff’s extensive experience and leadership, the Department of Public Safety is well prepared to contribute to all aspects of campus life and to serve the university now and in the future. I am confident that Jeff will take our department to the next level in improving on its many accomplishments to date.”

Recently, the department has received a regional Super Achiever Award for efforts to promote commuting by bus, carpool, vanpool and other alternatives to the one-car, one-person mode of transportation. The award was presented by the SmartCommute Challenge, a program of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Also, at the end of last year, public safety was reaccredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc. Previously accredited in 1995, 2000 and 2003, the department had to meet 446 law enforcement standards to earn the most recent recognition. The UNC department is one of the few accredited university public safety agencies in the country.

A native of Asheville, McCracken grew up in Cary. He and his wife, Jolie, live in Haw River with their two sons, Mason and Nolan.


News Services contact: Lisa Katz, (919) 962-2093,

School of Public Health contact: Ramona DuBose, director of communications, (919) 966-7467 or