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The way VCU polices its campus is changing

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Posted at 11:13 AM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-17 11:13:07-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The way VCU polices its campus is changing, according to a post written by VCU President Dr. Michael Rao.

"VCU will transition its public safety model from policing our community to equitably and more holistically fostering the safety and well-being of every individual on our campuses," Rao said in the post. "Through a series of targeted reforms and community involvement, VCU will forge a new transdisciplinary model for campus safety and wellness with the goal of addressing and promoting health equity."

He then outlined the following changes:

  • Civilian oversight and advisory function. VCU will implement a new civilian advisory committee. This committee will meet regularly to assist in the development of our new model, review VCU’s wellness and safety activities and results, and inform operational and strategic decisions. In order to determine how best to seat this committee, we would like to know your thoughts regarding its composition. Please provide your suggestions by using this form or emailing us at safetymodel@vcu.edu.
  • Overall oversight for campus safety is civilian, under the direction of the vice president for administration. Additionally, as with all VCU employees, VCU Police remain under the purview of VCU Human Resources who review, investigate and make recommendations for disciplinary actions.
  • Workforce realignment. VCU will focus on increasing safety, mental health, outreach and wellness staff while realigning our police workforce to place unsworn/unarmed safety or mental health professionals in roles that do not require sworn officers. All of these specialists will work collaboratively as a team and exercise a critical role in the safety and well-being of our community.
  • Fair and impartial policing. VCU knows that every single interaction matters. We will continue to implement policies, conduct training, solicit feedback and develop initiatives that promote fair and equitable treatment of all community members. VCU manages its own Virginia state-certified law enforcement training academy, policies and protocols as well as establishes its own operational priorities, separate from other local law enforcement agencies.
  • VCU will continue to provide and seek additional training for crisis intervention, de-escalation and fair and impartial policing practices such as implicit-bias-awareness training. VCU Police will support and participate in the One Mind Campaign, to improve response to those affected by mental illness. Officers are required to intervene and report excessive use of force as well as comply with restrictive use of force policies.
  • Transparent metrics. VCU Police track important key performance indicators and currently make this data available to the community through safety reports and crime logs. VCU will now enhance these efforts by developing a new public safety dashboard that includes officer complaints, department use of force and resolution, random body worn video camera reviews to include findings, and excessive use of force complaints to include resolution.
  • Community feedback. We need to hear your thoughts as we build this new model together. In addition to existing opportunities for the community to provide feedback, such as the VCU Police website, the LiveSafe mobile app, surveys and numerous community outreach events, VCU will seek new ways to listen and provide new platforms for community members to share their experiences and advice with both VCU Police and our civilian advisory committee. As we get started, we welcome your input. Please share your ideas and advice online at go.vcu.edu/safetymodel or email safetymodel@vcu.edu.

Rao promised to update VCU students, staff, and community members over the summer.