The VCU Police Department received their highest-ever approval rating in a recent climate survey, and the department is determined to continue taking progressive safety measures.
The VCU community expressed a staggering 96 percent approval rating regarding their perceived safety on campus, and not without reason.
The department’s recent and innovative safety measures have visibly decreased crime rates since just last year, to include a decrease in student robberies from 13 to eight incidents since Aug. 1 of last year.
“Our focus has been visibility, making it known that the police are out there to deter criminal activity,” O’Berry said.
The department has implemented several systems of achieving better visibility. These have included installing high-definition cameras on campus, contracting G4S Security and implementing a power shift unit.
O’Berry said the cameras have facilitated the investigative process by providing coherent footage. Thereby, officers are able to easily track and detect their desired targets or events.
G4S Security, one of the nation’s leading security companies, works in conjunction with campus police by going on patrols and providing back-up in demanding situations.
VCUPD also applied a five-member power shift unit in August of last year to assist the present night-side officers during patrols and other situations.
The acts of police brutality garnering national attention in recent months have catalyzed notable demonstrations and protests nationwide. The VCU and the surrounding Richmond community were home to several such demonstrations last semester.
During demonstrations on campus, the VCUPD facilitated and maintained student safety by blocking off roads and detouring traffic to allow demonstrators to march freely.
VCUPD public information officer Corey Byers reaffirmed that the campus police act objectively when handling such matters.
“The police department doesn’t pick and choose if we like the topic or not, our focus is the students’ safety,” Byers said.
VCU senior Ciera Waga participated in the recent demonstrations on campus and said she was appreciative of how cooperative the department was.
“For the most part it seemed like they were okay with people expressing themselves,” Waga said.
Additionally, the department held a public forum to allow officers and members of the community to communicate freely regarding police brutality. O’Berry said he felt the forum was beneficial because it clarified the duties of the police.
“You know from the police perspective, people think you don’t have to use deadly force, [that] you can shoot them in the leg but that’s not accurate,” O’Berry said, “We shoot center-mass to stop deadly threat.”
O’Berry said he feels that events such as the public forum are advancements the department has made in recent years by implementing various forms of communication to allow the public to report malicious activity.
“We’ve always had that community policing kind of philosophy,” O’Berry said.
Such tactics include call boxes on campus and the LiveSafe mobile app—an anonymous emergency communication program.
Waga, who is also an off-campus student, said she has noticed the effectiveness of the VCUPD’s advancements in recent years and said she feels safe despite being on the outskirts of VCU’s jurisdiction.
“I feel like over the last two years that the VCU Police are a lot more interactive,” Waga said. “I feel that awareness has gone up as a result and that creates a change.”