The VCU Police Department has seen an increase in the number of drug-related arrests occurring on campus this fall. By mid-Sept. last year, 11 arrests had been made — approximately half of this year’s 25 total charges. Under the direction of new Police Chief John Venuti, VCU patrolling officers have adjusted their routes to better cover the campus areas.
“We’re really, really looking at how we deploy the police officers,” said Venuti. “ I’m deploying them into the areas where we have problems and issues –that may account for what looks like a little uptick.”
The numbers of arrests being made in the residence halls has also increased. In 2009, only one student had been detained before Sept. 16. This semester eight students, many of them freshmen, have been charged.
“They don’t know the boundaries yet; the semester’s only been going for a month. You got to understand that just because your parents aren’t around, doesn’t mean you aren’t being watched,” said senior and history major Evan Naeher.
The VCU Police Department is working closely with Richmond Police in order to focus on students’ off-campus activity as well. Together they operate the Party Patrol program, which allows citizens to phone in and report loud activities in neighborhoods surrounding the Monroe Park campus, outside of university police jurisdiction.
Whenever a Richmond officer arrests a student, the incident is reported to VCU officials who can take administrative action via the Office of Judicial Affairs.
“For instance the student is put on probation with the university, meaning they’re still in good standing but if they were to have any other sort of violation they could risk that standing,” said Dean of Student Affairs Reuban Rodriguez. “We treat each incident separately and individually so if there’s something particularly egregious it could range all the way up to being expelled.”
According to Venuti, the VCU Police Department has maintained a clear drug and alcohol policy while reaching out to students, communicating with them in order to prevent future arrests.
“I’ve spoken to all of the fraternity presidents and vice presidents, I’ve spoken with all of athletics, a lot of the different groups, and the message is that if you are having a party or having a lot of people over, it’s your responsibility to control the incident,” he said. “It’s important for students to be good neighbors.”
The number of alcohol-related arrests on the VCU campuses and in residence halls appears to be stable. Before Sept. 16, four individuals living on campus were arrested in their buildings this and last year. The number of charges filed outside of the dorms has decreased slightly. By this point in the fall 2009 semester, 34 students had been arrested for alcohol-related incidents, compared to this year’s 30 total occurrences.