SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah State leaders continue to keep quiet about the situation surrounding their police chief. James Barnwell has been on paid administrative leave since Friday.
When talking to students about whether this impacts their perception of campus safety, it's a mixed bag. Some feel campus security is good. Others feel like this is another example of issues with keeping the campus safe.
The university named Barnwell the director of public safety in 2016. We still don't know why he is suspended. The university said they had no comment because it's a personnel matter. A spokesman for the University System of Georgia confirmed an interim has been named. However, no one at Savannah State will confirm who that is. We also don't know how long the internal investigation will take for Barnwell.
"I come up here at 6 o'clock in the morning. I'll walk alone and no one has ever tried to bother me. I don't have any safety issues. I feel very safe with the police department here," said Deborah, a student at SSU. "I think it's very important to have an active police department. They're very visual. They're everywhere. When I'm walking, I see them driving, so I feel very safe."
"It really depends on what's happening around campus. A couple years ago, we had the shooting. Everything was good after that. They locked down campus. They cared," said Josiah Webb. "You can see that's starting to slip a little bit, but hopefully it gets back to where it needs to be. It's a trouble having to take my ID out coming back on campus, but I'd rather have that then have someone just walk on one day."
Barnwell moved to Savannah State after a long career with Metro. We'll continue to follow this story and keep you updated.