VCU Police Lt. Bill Butters assists students at VCU's SOVO Fair at the Siegel Center in August 2015. Each August, VCUPD officers give away t-shirts to students when they download the LiveSafe app to their cell phones. Since 2013, when the app was implemented, more than 11,800 users have signed up.

Thanking VCU Police

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VCU is a premier national public research university doing remarkable things. We can do this because our faculty, staff and students are supremely talented and dedicated to advancing our unique mission — and they are able to live, learn, teach, create, heal, and discover in an environment that is safe.

As we celebrate National Police Week around the country, I am reminded of the hard work our 92-member police force — led by Assistant Vice President for Public Safety and University Police Chief John Venuti — does to make this possible.

As the largest university police force in the Commonwealth, VCU Police is made of fully-sworn law officers trained under standards set by national law enforcement agencies. They hold the distinction of being the first campus law enforcement agency in Virginia to be recognized as a Certified Crime Prevention Campus by the Department of Criminal Justice Services.

Because the community they serve is diverse and inclusive, members of our police force have completed SafeZone training, resulting in better understanding and communication with LQBTQ students, faculty, and staff. Our officers have also completed classes on fair and impartial policing.

A recent survey asked our faculty, staff, and students how safe they feel on our campuses. An impressive 97 percent said they feel “safe” or “very safe.” This is the highest score we have received since launching the survey in 2012.

But we want to do even better. Because safety and well-being is the top priority at VCU, we have successfully integrated technology into making VCU an even safer place to learn and live. For example, patrol officers use body-worn cameras to increase transparency with the community. Our LiveSafe mobile app connects users with VCU Police dispatchers at all hours. So far, this app has been downloaded 11,834 times. If you have not already, I encourage you to download this free app.

Our police, of course, do more than fight crime. They are terrific ambassadors in our community and across the Commonwealth. Officer Sonny Pryor was recently recognized by Gov. Terry McAuliffe with the Governor’s Workplace Health, Wellness and Safety Award for going above and beyond the duties of a police officer after he saved a woman’s life at VCU Medical Center. We are proud of Officer Pryor and thankful that he is a member of the highly regarded VCU Police.

During National Police Week and always, please join me in thanking members of VCU Police Department for the work they do to ensure that we all have a safe place to teach, learn, and live — at all times.