MEMPHIS, Tenn. — One year after jogger Eliza Fletcher was abducted from the University of Memphis area, the U of M says it is adding fencing, lighting, cameras and other security improvements to the campus and surrounding areas.
The U of M announced Thursday it was beginning work on the first phase of the plan, which is paid for with $5 million from a state legislative budget appropriation.
“Our Memphis community is facing a painful anniversary as we honor the life of Eliza Fletcher this week,” said U of M President Dr. Bill Hardgrave. “As Memphians gather to ‘Finish Liza’s Run,’ we are committed to working together to ensure our campus and surrounding areas contribute to a safer Memphis.”
The plan includes:
- Increasing perimeter fencing and parking lot access controls
- Increasing LED lighting in parking lots and surrounding facilities
- Increasing and replacing mobile trailer units and patrol vehicles for greater presence on campus
- Increasing cameras and 24/7 monitoring around parking lots, buildings and campus entrances/exits
- Improving a comprehensive notification system to ensure emergency alerts reach all members of the campus community quickly
Students, employees and campus visitors can also sign up for safety alerts by texting TIGERNATION to 888777.
Students like Charles Jones say they couldn’t be happier.
“I’ve been a little bit scared at times just because I hear everything that does go on around campus and being here so much, there’s like there’s a lot of opportunities for things,” Jones said. “A lot of break ins, a lot of thefts.”
Jones is a junior at the university who used to stay on campus as a freshman, but after not feeling safe on the premises, he decided to move.
“Yeah, I really just want to see maybe like more security on campus just patrolling the area as a whole to ensure the safety of the students,” he said.
Fletcher was jogging from her Midtown home through the U of M campus on Central Avenue the morning of Sept. 1, 2022 when she was abducted. Her body was found behind an abandoned home in South Memphis three days later. Her alleged killer, Cleotha Henderson, has since been arrested and charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping in the case.
Many students at University of Memphis agree with Jones, saying the school could do more to protect them. After what happened to Eliza Fletcher, students are worried about commuting around campus.
Friday, hundreds of runners are planning to “Finish Liza’s Run” for the second year, as a memorial to Fletcher.
A bipartisan group of Memphis-area lawmakers said in a statement they were proud to help secure funds for the improvements.
“Liza Fletcher was a shining light in our community whose absence continues to be felt to this day. No one, regardless of who they are or where they live, should have to fear for their safety when they leave their home. … We must do all that we can to protect our great city from these senseless crimes,” said Rep. John Gillespie (R-Dist. 97).
“While there is still much work to be done across the state to keep Tennesseans safe, securing our institutes of higher learning and the communities that surround them is one of the items that remains one of our highest priorities,” said Rep. Torrey Harris (D-Dist. 91)