Sgt. Jacob Deal of the Western Carolina University Police Department is recipient of the UNC System’s Officer of the Year Award for Outstanding and Exceptional Service in recognition of his work in campus outreach activities, including those focusing on sexual assault prevention.

Deal, a member of the WCU Police Department since February 2011, received the award from UNC President Margaret Spellings during an annual meeting of the system’s police chiefs Thursday, April 27, in Chapel Hill.

The award is given for the completion of a task or assignment that went beyond the normal call of duty and that enhanced public safety, encouraged community involvement and/or demonstrated an effective outcome in crime prevention, community-oriented policing or other projects.

“Ensuring the safety and security of our campus communities will always be a top priority,” Spellings said. “I applaud Sgt. Jacob Deal for his leadership in ensuring that Western Carolina University is a safe environment in which our students, faculty and staff can live, learn and grow.”

Deal first assumed responsibility for the WCU Police Department’s Support Services Section in May 2015, taking on responsibility for leading the agency’s efforts in investigations, community programming, victim services, evidence room management and record-keeping.

In that role, Deal began to actively promote the department’s community programming activities to students, faculty and staff. In just one year, his efforts have resulted in an increase of nearly 100 percent in the number of people who have attended police-delivered programs on campus safety, sexual assault awareness, crime prevention and active shooter training, said WCU Police Chief Ernie Hudson, who nominated Deal for the award.

“It is important to note that much of our programming occurs after ‘normal’ business hours,” Hudson said. “Sgt. Deal has personally attended and participated in most of these programs, as he recognizes the importance of the safety of our community, crime prevention and community/police partnerships.”

Deal also has been instrumental in the development of materials designed to assist and support the victims of crime, especially during vulnerable times early in an investigation, Hudson said.

“As our experience tells us, victims can be overwhelmed by too much information presented at the outset of an investigation. Criminal investigations, university investigations, mental health and medical services, and community services can all seem too much to ask a victim to remember,” he said. “Sgt. Deal also does a follow-up contact with victims to ensure that their questions or concerns are addressed and that they are fully aware of the various services and support groups available to them.”

In addition, Deal has launched a program to provide police with training and medication to use when confronted with an opioid overdose, and he serves as the departmental coordinator for local Special Olympics activities.

A Jackson County resident, Deal earned his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice in 2009 and a second bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2015, both at WCU. Before becoming a patrol officer at the university, he worked with the Fletcher Police Department.