UNC-Charlottemeet with local, federal law enforcement

by: Peter Daut Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - UNC-Charlotte students are offering to help federal law enforcement officials with security for the Democratic National Convention.

The information the students are sharing deals with terrorism.

For the past several months, UNC-Charlotte professor Cindy Combs and her students have been identifying security concerns for the DNC.

She said terrorism is a real threat.

"If you can discover it in time, you might be able to stop it," Combs said.

The students believe the biggest threat comes from right-wing extremist groups, and “lone wolf attackers” trying to make a statement. They also said events without heightened security are the more likely targets.

"Some of these smaller social events and fundraising events might be a little bit more penetrable," researcher Kevin Whitmeyer said.

Student Clinton Anderson actually created a program to help the FBI search for radical extremists online, using certain key words. He believes this year's convention is especially vulnerable to attack.

"From the economy to Obama being president and all the high emotions he evokes," Anderson said.

Though the researchers are concerned about terrorism, they also do not want to frighten people.

"You do not sit at home because terrorism is out there. The terrorist then wins because they don't even have to do anything. They've already terrified you enough to stay home," Combs said.

The students have also shared their findings with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the Secret Service.

While the FBI said they were appreciative of the students' research, the information shared may not have been compatible with information and research methods already in place by the FBI.