VCU holds town hall safety meeting - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

VCU holds town hall safety meeting

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

VCU students got the chance to ask school officials tough questions about safety on campus. The University held a town hall meeting Thursday night to address recent crimes, including a crime spree earlier in the week.

Many of the student and faculty concerns centered around where the police were on campus, and what police are doing to protect students.  

President Rao called this a "difficult time" for the University, and added that the was "very disturbed." He also promised students, "We are going to do everything we can, using every bit of power, to prove this is safe."  

The room for the meeting was hardly full, especially given the tens of thousands of students and faculty members at VCU, but the line to ask school officials about safety went almost out the door.

Not unexpectedly on a college campus, questions ranged from why police are busting school parties to what police are doing to make it safer for students walking on campus.  

Sophomore Annie Balint said that's why she made the late night trip to the meeting.    

"What are they doing to stop it? Because it doesn't seem like they're doing anything," remarked Balint. "But it keeps happening! And they say, 'Oh, we've increased patrols!' but it doesn't seem like you have."

Police say they do have some plans in place to improve student safety, especially when it comes to safe rides from the school's escort service. One of those new tools is a new safe ride program next semester. Police say it is used on several other college campuses and will allow students to schedule safe rides and track them all from the palm of their hands.

And if this meeting was any indication, that's something students here will likely use. Many were concerned about the escort service. Many were also on phones and iPads during the meeting.

"It's with me 24-7," said Stephenie Trinity, another student. "I would say my phone is the best way for me to be connected."

Another common theme? Students asking police where they are on campus.   

"I would want police to walk around," said Balint. "I don't see that. I see them on their bikes once in a while, but we have such a large police force, but surely we have enough people to be visible on campus!"

Police say they have one of the biggest campus police forces in the country - and they are out there.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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