VCU PD camera system helped hundreds of arrests, warrants

Photo by: Becca Schwartz
VCU PD camera system. Photo by Becca Schwartz
VCU Police Chief John Venuti said he believes the camera system has contributed to the drop in robberies since 2013, in addition to helping solve crashes, hit-and-runs, larcenies, bike and auto thefts and assaults. Photo by Becca Schwartz

VCU Police used evidence from its expansive camera surveillance system in more than 1,047 cases, according to an announcement last Friday.

According to the announcement, the high definition evidence collection system has aided in the arrests of 337 individuals, issuing 435 warrants and disproven false reports 29 times. The system is designed by SyCom Technologies, an area IT company, and coordinates between the VCU PD, facilities management and technology service.

In 2012, VCU administration began collaborating with the police department to implement a $2.6 million upgraded system. The system has been in operation since August 2013 on both the Monroe Park and medical campuses.

“Potential Criminals should know we’re watching,” VCU Police Chief John Venuti said. “A substantial investment was made for this system and I believe it has proven to be an effective crime prevention tool and a law enforcement tool.”

Venuti said he believes the camera system has contributed to the drop in robberies since 2013, in addition to helping solve crashes, hit-and-runs, larcenies, bike and auto thefts and assaults.

Last Summer, VCU police and SyCom were awarded the Michael Shanahan Award for Excellence in Public/Private Cooperation by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

“We’ve got 50,000 sets of human eyes and ears watching our campuses and the cameras supplement a community that is already very focused on keeping VCU secure,” Venuti said.

The system has also collected 246 examples of evidence shared with other agencies, including the Richmond Police Department.

Richmond Deputy Police Chief Eric English said the VCU system has helped the RPD fight crime downtown, in the Fan district and along the VCU corridor.

“We actually ask for (VCU PD) assistance in several cases we have,” English said. “We have actually been able to solve quite a few cases whether we have a description of a suspect — their camera system has been very effective.”

According to English, the cameras have cultivated a better partnership between VCU and Richmond PD.

“They have been right on point they haven’t stopped us from using it,” English said. “We don’t have primary access to it, so we just ask for their assistance in pulling up video and and they have been nothing but amicable to our request.”

Faculty director for public outreach for the Commonwealth Educational Policy Institute (CEPI) at VCU Robyn McDougle recently briefed members of Virginia’s legislature on poll data compiled by CEPI, which stated the majority of Virginians view police favorably.

McDougle said each time a police department incorporates additional forms of technology, such as cameras, they enhance their ability to capture, process and potentially utilize new information in investigations.

“I think the VCU Police Department’s willingness to get invested and utilize this camera system is really one of the reasons we continually see (the department) as a model campus police department around the country,” McDougle said.

McDougle noted the increasing trend in deploying camera systems at other departments, and said she believes that VCU PD is ahead of that trend.

“Using that on our campus is really a testament to why (the VCU PD) are always forward thinking and at the forefront of campus law enforcement,” McDougle said.

According to McDougle, the enhanced police surveillance is no threat to student’s privacy.

Staff Writer, Andrew Crider

Andrew Crider, photo by Brooke MarshAndrew is a junior economics major who has written for student newspapers since he was in high school. Andrew is interested in political history, aviation, photography and running. He has a tendency to refer to his peers, coworkers and bosses as “ma’am” or “sir,” but is getting better about referring to his friends at the CT by their first names instead. // Facebook

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