Richmond City Council approves proposal to extend VCU Police presence off campus

It would extend VCU Police jurisdiction to the Randolph and Oregon Hill neighborhoods
The plan impacts two neighborhoods near Virginia Commonwealth University's campus
Published: Nov. 15, 2023 at 6:49 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Richmond City Council members on Monday approved a plan to expand VCU Police jurisdiction to two off-campus neighborhoods: Randolph and Oregon Hill.

While the change will provide extra security for students, the move is largely in response to community members issuing complaints about student conduct getting out of control in those neighborhoods.

Richmond City Council member Stephanie Lynch said she received numerous messages from residents in her 5th District about VCU student parties causing damage and harm to those around them.

“Fires that have been started and spread in backyards, fences that have been knocked over, trash that has been left in streets and alleyways, and in some of our seniors’ yards that they’ve taken pictures of, “ said Lynch. “And sadly, I’ve heard incidences of seniors feeling intimidated.”

Latasha Wyche is a longtime resident of Randolph and serves as the president of the neighborhood civic association.

“I’ve personally seen public urination, property damage, trash, traffic and heard the noise,” said Wyche. “We’ve had sororities and fraternities rent these homes in our neighborhood and throw parties with upwards of 100, 150, maybe even 200 people in attendance.”

Wyche pointed to three homes across the street from her that are occupied by VCU students. They have senior residents living on either side.

Wyche said whenever new students move in, she outlines the neighborhood rules and expectations to them, which sometimes helps.

Richmond police will continue to serve as the main patrol agency for both Randolph and Oregon Hill, but VCU police can respond to university-related incidents in the expanded jurisdiction.

“This gives us the ability to handle cases involving students, faculty and staff in those areas,” VCU’s Associate Vice President for Public Safety and Chief of Police John Venuti said in a statement.

“For example, when we get a call from a student who lives there, we can immediately connect them with resources at the university and totally address the needs of the situation. Additionally, if neighbors have questions or concerns specifically for VCU Police, we can address those and free up Richmond police to handle other calls,” Venuti added.

VCU Police and Richmond Police already work together to patrol the Monroe Park and VCU Medical Center campuses, which won’t change.

VCU Police can also respond to calls in Carver, and some of the Fan District and Jackson Ward neighborhoods.

Richmond Circuit Court needs to approve the proposal before it’s finalized.

“Essentially, we’ll ask for the same kind of expansion of jurisdiction that the Carver neighborhood has had in place for 20 years,” said Lynch.

There are 95 officers on VCU’s police force, but the department says it is exploring bringing on more officers to help with any increased workload.

Once approved, VCU patrols in the expanded jurisdiction are expected to start in early 2024.