Varsha Vasudevan, Staff Writer
VCU Police recently introduced an anonymous survey via QR code for community members to assess their experiences with officers, according to the VCU Safety and Well-being Advisory Committee website.
The surveys are accessible through “Guardian Score QR codes” and are displayed on “stop cards,” according to the website.
The cards are given out to community members after an interaction with the police, according to VCU PD Public Information Officer Corey Byers. Each card has the name of the officer, department, specific position and steps to follow the QR code, Byers stated in an email.
“The goal of QR codes is to give community members the opportunity to share immediate feedback on their interactions with officers,” Byers stated.
Byers stated that the initiative is part of VCU’s Safety and Well-being Advisory Committee [SWAC] recommendations. Some interactions that warrant the distribution of a stop card include “after a traffic stop or a lengthy conversation with an officer,” according to the website. Community members can also ask officers for them and feedback from the QR codes is checked “regularly,” according to Byers.
The implementation of these QR codes launched almost a month after VCU police officer Polly Griffin was arrested for assault and battery on Jan. 10, according to the Virginia Judiciary Online Case Information System. The trial is currently ongoing. There is no connection between the charges and implementation of the surveys, Byers stated.
Junior environmental studies major Isabella Bartalone said the anonymous surveys could be useful in increasing police accountability.
“I think it’s effective,” Bartalone said. “I think any direct feedback is a good idea.”
Bartalone said while the cards would help in making the police seem more approachable, it wouldn’t lessen tension between the police and students.
“I think it’ll help, but it won’t solve everything,” Bartalone said.
Byers said she hopes that this initiative will allow community members to feel heard after police interactions.
“The questions let users rate the officer in five areas,” Byers stated. “Does the community member know why the stop was conducted? Did the officer actively listen during the conversation? Does the person believe they were treated fairly during the interaction? Was the officer professional? Does the victim, or survivor, know about potential resources?”
Byers stated each officer and respective supervisor could view responses from the QR codes and feedback would be taken into consideration during officers’ annual performance reviews.
“Continued negative responses would trigger supervisory intervention,” Byers stated. “This would include enhanced reviews of the officer’s body-worn camera interactions to determine what the officer is doing that is perceived as poor.”
Byers also stated that VCU PD conducts random checks of body camera footage to ensure “officers deliver high levels of service and follow policies.”
Senior biochemistry student Carter Tuck said the implementation of the QR codes is “probably just showboating.”
“I mean, they have a clear directive, just to keep the campus safe, I guess,” Tuck said. “Why would they really care about our opinions on how they do such?”
Tuck said he doubts the creation of the survey would increase police accountability.
“Maybe it’ll change some attitudes of how students feel about police, but I don’t think it would make them [VCU PD] feel more accountable that they have to worry about student opinions,” Tuck said.
Freshman graphic design student Abigail McFall said she wishes the QR codes will improve the VCU PD.
“Hopefully this will give them helpful feedback, but I’m not sure that the QR code ordeal will really help much,” McFall said. “I don’t know that they’re going to take it very seriously.”
McFall said it was likely the feedback received through the QR code surveys would be ignored by the VCU PD.
“I just don’t have much faith in the department that they really care about how we feel,” McFall said.