VCU Police are turning to new technology, new time-tables and new relationships to keep students safe as they return to campus. The new school year means new students and new officers, so NBC12 caught up with Chief John Venuti to find out how his people are keeping the campus and the surrounding communities safe.
For students it's time to hit the books. For VCU Police officers, it's time to hit the streets.
"We've made enhancements to lighting," Chief Venuti listed. "We've made enhancements to security. We've cut down trees and bushes and shrubs based on where people tell us areas look unsafe."
The enhancements come in technology, as well.
Just this past weekend, VCU unveiled its new "Livesafe" app. It will help you keep in touch with the police department. You can report information, call police, have a safety map or put in your alert contacts.
VCU PD has also revamped its patrol shifts in order to have maximum manpower at specific times.
"We really look at the data that we have from prior years and we know that the evening hours between 9pm and 3am in the VCU footprint are really, really critical times," Venuti added.
Last school year, there were robberies of students during those critical times. Venuti explained Tuesday, he's aggressively working on preventing those crimes, many of which went down not on the core campus, but in the surrounding neighborhoods.
Officer Greg Felton is working full-time to facilitate the relationship between residents there and students, by tackling issues with trash, noise and parking.
"The challenge is really trying to find a balance between a large university and a resident population," Felton said.
Felton explained they'll use the student code of conduct as motivation.
"The code, it follows them whether they live on campus or they live off campus," he added. "We enforce that code. We also let the property owners know that their tenants and their residents are expected and really required to conduct themselves in a way that allows for a peaceful coexistence."
Chief Venuti expects to do a student safety perception survey at the end of September.
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