Moving Forward in Public Safety
As conversations about police reform are ongoing across the world, Virginia Commonwealth University continues to take steps to transform its public safety model to best reflect the needs of students, faculty, staff, guests and local residents of Richmond.
Our priorities remain focused on the fair and equal treatment of every human being, implicit bias training for our staff, and emphasis on de-escalation and continuing to reduce the number of incidents in which officers use force.
Maintaining high levels of accountability and oversight of our operations ensures that we are providing high levels of customer service and meeting the needs of our unique and diverse community.
In June 2020, VCU’s President, Dr. Michael Rao, announced the steps VCU is taking to develop a holistic approach to addressing the safety and well being of each community member. In the words of Dr. Rao, “our mission calls on us to address very real issues such as law enforcement’s interactions with ethnic, racial, gender and sexual minority communities, in particular those intersecting with African American communities.”
As VCU’s chief of police, it is my responsibility to implement the highest standards for policing that are student centered and community focused. My goal is to make each and every interaction with the community fair, equitable and safe. Our responsibility for overall safety spans the MCV Campus, the Monroe Park Campus, and the surrounding neighborhoods and communities. Our success is dependent on the partnership with the community that we serve and protect.
To that end, VCU Police will be continuing efforts to maintain a safe environment for each and every person who lives, works and visits VCU. This new model will enhance or include the following initiatives:
- Creation of a civilian advisory committee: This committee will ensure that strategies and initiatives that are developed are focused on the safety and wellbeing of the community.
- Workforce realignment: VCU will look for new ways to integrate student workers into conducting tasks that do not require a sworn officer.
- Fair and impartial policing: This encompasses strategies and initiatives to ensure all human beings are treated fairly, equally with respect and dignity.
- Transparent metrics: Key performance indicators are important metrics for the VCU community to review. Implementing a Transparency Dashboard on the VCU Police website demonstrates our openness to transparency and accountability to our community.
- Solicitation of community feedback: We rely on community feedback to ensure that we are meeting the needs of students, faculty, and staff.
With this progress in mind, we continue to believe that safety at VCU is everyone’s responsibility. Every person plays a role in keeping each other safe.
We want to give everyone the knowledge and tools they need to take an active role in safety here at VCU and for the rest of their lives.
VCU has a comprehensive alerting system for emergencies; we encourage everyone to sign up for VCU Alert texts. We also encourage everyone to download the free LiveSafe app. Users can report anything suspicious by texting or sending in videos, photos and audio messages 24/7.
Our department highly values two-way communication and we welcome your ideas for improving safety on our campuses. Partnerships are key to our success; we will work with any group of students, faculty or staff on safety initiatives and partnership opportunities.
We want to assure our community that VCU Police officers take all threats and reports of violence very seriously. The university prohibits all forms of violence, including domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. Students, faculty and staff are encouraged to meet with us at any time should they feel their personal safety, or the university, is at risk.
The VCU community has more than 50,000 students, faculty and staff members. It takes 50,000 pairs of eyes and ears to inform police about what is happening at VCU. We cannot do it alone and we need you to make safety a priority.
Thank you for continuing to collaborate with us to keep our campuses safe as we move forward and create a new model for policing at VCU.
Chief John Venuti
Associate Vice President for Public Safety, VCU & VCU Health
Photo of Chief Venuti [View Image]
Photo of John Venuti, Associate Vice President of Public Safety, VCU & VCU Health and Chief of Police