City Council votes to expand VCU Police Department jurisdiction

Updated: Jan. 29, 2019 at 6:36 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department is one step closer to expanding it’s jurisdiction after a city council vote Monday night.

VCU police says the new jurisdiction will help them respond to and manage incidents on VCU properties that are outside of jurisdiction right now.

“The  VCU Police Department is seeking an expansion of its concurrent jurisdictional  boundaries within  the City of Richmond; VCU Police and the Richmond Police Department currently have the same authority on and around VCU’s campuses. Though the expansion would give VCU Police officers arrest and investigative authority in a larger geographic area, the Richmond Police Department  will remain the primary law enforcement agency in the City of Richmond. The  VCU Police Department’s request to expand jurisdiction, which has been approved by the Richmond City Council, also needs final approval from the Richmond Circuit Court. VCUPD’s  primary focus will still be on VCU-owned and controlled properties in downtown Richmond. This new jurisdiction will give officers the flexibility to manage incidents and investigations on VCU properties that are currently outside of jurisdiction. In other  words, when students, faculty and staff who are currently in off-campus buildings request a VCU Police officer, we will be able to respond. Our  primary mission, and focus, is to provide safe learning, living and working environments for all students, faculty and staff. This request furthers that mission and would give VCU Police the opportunity to better serve the VCU community. We have worked with the Richmond Police Department and the mayor’s office on this request, and will continue to work with the court in this process.”

During Monday nights council meeting, the proposal to expand the jurisdiction was met with opposition, as students, business owners and community members lined up during the public comment period to voice their frustrations.

“The VCU Police Department is barely accountable to the student body and faculty of VCU, I don’t see how they would be accountable to the residents of the city who are not students or faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University," said one resident.

The president of the Carver Community Association, was among those who stood in support, explaining how VCU police stepped in to help their community.

“We would have residents in the neighborhood who are 60, 70 and 80 years old, that are dealing with people who have disrespect for them and we could call VCU police and say, ‘could you help us out with these problems?’” said Jerome Legions.

City Council ultimately voted in favor of the expanded jurisdiction, and the final decision will be made in Richmond Circuit Court.

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