Starting this semester, VCU Police could be rolling up to your party in their new “Party Van” if you bring the noise.
Equipped with audio and video recording equipment to monitor and document noisy and disruptive parties, the new VCU Noise Suppression Unit, or “Party Van”, was unveiled in a press release earlier this month.
“A primary focus for VCU is the quality of life for those living nearby,” said VCU Police Chief John Venuti in the press release. “This vehicle allows the university to be even more responsive and proactive about handling and suppressing excessive noise in surrounding neighborhoods.”
Since the announcement of the van, Venuti says it has yet to be deployed in any instance. Because data and information has only started being collected for the semester on August 1, no serious action has been taken with the van yet.
In the most extreme cases, the van will be used to capture decibel levels and gather video evidence in front of residences who have received multiple noise complaints, according to Venuti.
As part of a recent reassessment of the department’s procedures for handling noise complaints, the van is meant to clearly document police response to noise violations.
For repeat offenders and in cases where legal action may be taken by property managers or the city, the evidence gathered by the van may be used in tribunal or court for infractions against VCU’s Code of Conduct or local noise ordinances.
“We are a professional, competent police agency,” Venuti said. “When you involve us in a situation where a neighborhood group or resident calls, we’re responsive, effective and strategic with our time.”
VCU Police were able to obtain a surplus van from VCU Facilities Management. The van, decals and equipment were purchased for $13,000 with funds secured from asset forfeiture collected by previous years legal proceedings, according to Venuti.
The van also features loud graphics wrapped around its exterior, meant to capture the attention of residents in and around neighboring communities surrounding VCU, which are most often inhabited by not just students, but plenty of city residents unaffiliated with the university.
In an attempt to bridge the gap between students and members of the community, the van is meant to educate and remind those inclined to throw excessively loud parties that neighbors may not appreciate the extra noise.
Last school year, over 186 residences were visited by VCU police in response to noise complaints.
“It’s important for students to know that off-campus conduct matters,” Venuti said. “It’s another step in the direction of prevention and awareness.”
Students may not see the van for sometime, as VCU police say it will primarily be used in response to noise complaints. Venuti says, however, that the van may be deployed around campus during events such as Family Weekend to raise awareness and educate students.
For those worried about potentially having the police called on their party, Venuti suggests using Prtysmrt. Introduced last school year, the party registration program will have the police send you a warning text message that your party has received complaints and to lower the volume before officers may have to be dispatched.http://www.prtysmrt.com/
Police Chief Venuti also suggests speaking to neighbors and providing your phone number so any disturbances can be handled personally before any calls are made to the police.
“We work hand-in-hand with the community to make sure that we are being good neighbors to the communities around here,” Venuti said. “That’s a really important priority for VCU.”