Top 10 FAQ for Students and Parents on Campus Safety
The following questions are adapted from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA). The VCU Police Department is accredited by IACLEA.
- How do students report an emergency?
- Crimes and emergencies may be reported to VCU Police by calling (804) 828-1234 (emergency) or (804) 828-1196 (non-emergency). VCU Police officers patrol both campuses 24/7. Off-campus crimes and emergencies can be reported to the Richmond Police Department by calling 9-1-1. VCU Police and Richmond Police are interoperable. The agencies share computer aided dispatch systems CAD, case management systems, and radio systems. This interoperability feature allows for dual dispatching and response form both agencies simultaneously when there is a significant emergency.
- Community members can use the Emergency Reporting Telephone System (ERTs) on both campuses; these are marked by yellow or blue (exterior) or red (interior) lighting. When the phone is taken off the receiver it dials directly into VCU Police.
- Students, faculty, staff and guests can download the free LiveSafe app on iOS and Android devices and choose “Virginia Commonwealth University” as the location. LiveSafe app users can call or text in tips, photos, video files and audio files 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. LiveSafe messages are monitored just like emergency calls.
- Should a community member want to report to VCU Police in person, they can visit 224 East Broad St., in Richmond and use the Broad Street entrance 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. The VCU Police Emergency Communications Center is open around-the-clock every day of the week.
- How are students notified by the university in the event of a campus-wide emergency?
- VCU has implemented a multichannel communication system to keep students, faculty and staff informed, safe and secure. VCU Alert text messages notify students, faculty, staff and parents immediately about campus emergencies. The text message alert system will also be used to report weather delays and cancellations. To sign up, visit www.alert.vcu.edu/signup; registration is free. The LiveSafe app and VCU Mobile are also used for emergency notifications. The VCU Alert website, alert.vcu.edu is updated regularly with information and instructions on how to respond, should an emergency occur.
- In the event of a life-threatening emergency, multiple sirens on VCU’s Monroe Park and MCV campuses will sound, alerting students, faculty, staff, patients, visitors and the surrounding communities to seek shelter. Alertus devices in classrooms, residence halls and other high-traffic areas will emit an alarm and a flashing strobe-light warning, along with a protective action statement on the devices’ large-text digital displays. Digital sign boards in major academic buildings, the University Student Commons and all resident hall lobbies will provide immediate information during campus emergencies. The VCU Facebook and Twitter accounts are also used to push VCU Alert messages during emergency situations. All VCU networked computers will receive desktop notifications during emergencies and other disruptive events.
- Is there a campus-wide emergency preparedness plan, and is it regularly reviewed and updated? If so, when was it last updated/reviewed?
Yes, in accordance with Virginia Executive Order 41, Emergency Preparedness Responsibilities of State Agencies and Public Institutes of Higher Education (2019), the VCU Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP) is an all hazards, emergency response plan that is updated and tested annually. The VCU CEMP was last reviewed in 2022. In addition, the VCU Police Department conducts additional training to practice responses to various types of emergencies.
- What is the authority of the campus police/public safety department, and what type of entry-level and ongoing training do they receive?
VCU has authorized the operation of a full-time, professionally-trained police department responsible for the safety and well-being of all members of the university community and their guests. VCU Police is internationally accredited and provides the same level of service offered by a municipal police department, as well as other services unique to an academic institution.
As empowered by the Code of Virginia, VCU Police officers have the authority to enforce state and local ordinances, as well as the authority to detain and arrest individuals who violate the law. VCU Police jurisdiction includes all university-owned, -leased and -controlled property and the adjacent streets and sidewalks.
VCU police officers are sworn and certified by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). All 95 officers have completed 600 hours of law enforcement training and are required to complete 40 hours of in-service training biennially. VCU Police is the only campus law enforcement agency in Virginia with its own DCJS police training academy; officers train on the campuses so they are familiarized with the university and community members. All officers are trained in either mental health first aid or crisis intervention.
VCU Police partners with contract security personnel to provide high visibility and to enhance overall safety on the Monroe Park and MCV campuses. Contract security personnel do not have arrest powers and do not carry, or have access to, a firearm in the performance of their duties. As mandated by DCJS, all security officers employed by, or contracted to, the university are required to complete DCJS approved training and successfully pass written exams in order to serve as certified, unarmed security officers.
- What is the relationship between the campus police/public safety department and local or municipal police? How do these agencies work together to protect the community whether on or off campus?
VCU Police maintains mutual aid agreements with the Richmond Police Department and the Virginia State Police. The Richmond Police Department agreement also gives VCU Police the authority to investigate criminal incidents occurring within its jurisdiction.
VCU Police maintains a strong working relationship with the Richmond Police Department, the Virginia State Police and the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. A representative from VCU Police regularly attends Richmond Police Department meetings.
- What services and resources does the campus use to enhance community safety and security?
VCU provides the following campus safety services:
- Emergency Reporting Telephone System (ERTS): These are marked with yellow lighting outside and are red indoors. Only the Gladding Residence Center utilizes a blue exterior telephone for emergency reporting purposes. The telephones, at more than 350 sites across both campuses, allow direct contact with VCU Police. An officer will be dispatched immediately to the site when the phones are accessed.
- VCUCard Access: Employees and students can use their VCUCard, the universal campus identification card, in readers at designated building entrances. A proximity chip embedded in the card identifies users and allows the programmed card reader to open the door only to individuals with proper authority for that building.
- RamSafe: RamSafe is the point-to-point evening transportation service dedicated for VCU students, faculty and staff. The program provides safe and free transportation to on-campus locations and nearby residences and buildings within defined boundaries on the Monroe Park and MCV campuses. VCU faculty, students and staff can request rides from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. by using the Ride Pingo app. VCU Health employees should continue to contact (804) 828-WALK for a security escort on the MCV Campus.
- RMC Events (Security): VCU Police partners with contract security personnel to provide high visibility patrols and to enhance overall safety on the Monroe Park and MCV campuses.
- VCU Police bicycle patrol: police officers are able to respond quickly to calls for service and provide visibility.
- Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) training: teaches students and employees how to escape from threatening situations.
- Bicycle and computer registration: As part of the department’s education program, VCU Police officers aid students and employees with registering their bicycles and personal computers to deter theft. VCU Police also offers free bicycle U-locks to cyclists (while supplies last).
- Lighting and maintenance: VCU Police officers regularly assess areas that may need repaired or upgraded lighting on campus, as well as assess maintenance needs in on-campus areas that may provide protection from potential criminal activities.
- LiveSafe: a free app for iOS and Android devices. Once users download the app and choose VCU as their school, they will receive a “push” message through the VCU LiveSafe application that will also contain protective action statements related to an event.
- Crime prevention and security awareness programs and resources: Police officers specializing in crime prevention offer strategies to help the campus community stay safe and prevent crime. They provide crime prevention presentations during all new student/parent and employee orientations. Topics include personal safety awareness, larceny/ robbery prevention and cyber safety, with additional sessions conducted on domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, healthy relationships and substance use education and resources. Safety planning is available for students, faculty and staff by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Pepper spray is allowed on VCU’s campuses, but not in VCU Health medical facilities. VCU Police periodically offer free pepper spray at events.
- How does the campus handle reports of bias and gender-based violence and what role do the campus police/public safety play?
VCU will take prompt and appropriate action to eliminate sexual harassment and sex-based misconduct, prevent their recurrence and remedy their effects. Such conduct includes sexual assault, sexual exploitation, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and conduct that aids, facilitates, promotes, or encourages the commission of any act prohibited by the university’s Interim Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy and Interim Sex-Based Misconduct Policy. For more information on the university’s procedures for responding to prohibited conduct, refer to VCU’s Interim Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy and Interim Sex-Based Misconduct Policy.
VCU Police takes all reports of threats, harassment, assault and sexual assault seriously and will investigate each report. VCUPD uses the You Have Options Program, which gives sexual assault survivors control over how much information they provide to officers; the department has specially-trained victim-witness officers to work with survivors of assault and victims of crime.
- How does the campus handle behavioral threat assessment and who conducts the assessments?
VCU’s Threat Assessment Team and violence prevention committee are multi-disciplinary teams composed of VCU personnel responsible for developing violence prevention programming, and are charged with implementing the university’s threat assessment, intervention and action protocol. The teams consist of representatives from VCU Police, Human Resources, University Counseling Services, Division of Student Affairs, and other units as deemed necessary.
- What campus services are in place and accessible to support student mental health? And what level of training is provided to your campus police/public safety on mental health?
- Students who need mental health resources, or who are experiencing a mental health emergency, can call the University Counseling Services line directly at (804) 828-6200 to access crisis services, which are available 24/7/365.
- The Student Assistance and Support (SAS) Team serves the university, and individual students by coordinating prevention, intervention and support efforts to assist students experiencing psychological distress, inappropriate behaviors and harm to self. The SAS Team provides a centralized protocol to review concerns and address the needs of students through a variety of interventions, referrals and follow ups. The team is composed of key personnel from the Division of Student Affairs, University Counseling Services, University Student Health Services, the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity, Residential Life and Housing, VCU Police and other units as deemed appropriate. The team is also available to faculty, staff or students for case consultation to address significant student situations.
- VCU Police officers receive Crisis Intervention or Mental Health First Aid, training. They also receive instruction on Integrating Communications, Assessment and Tactics (ICAT), autism, elderly abuse and abnormal behaviors.
- When does the campus publish its annual security report? What does the report contain, and how is it distributed?
The 1990 Clery Act requires all U.S. colleges and universities that receive federal funding to disseminate a public annual security report to campus employees and students by October 1. The report must include statistics of campus crime and fire statistics, among other information, for the preceding three calendar years, as well as details on efforts undertaken by the college or university to improve campus safety.
- VCU’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report for its Virginia-based campuses is available on the VCU Police website at https://police.vcu.edu/media/police/assets/documents/facts--reports/CampusSafetyReport.pdf.
- VCU’s Annual Security Report for the VCUarts Qatar campus is available on the VCU Police website at https://police.vcu.edu/media/police/assets/documents/facts--reports/VCUartsQatarReport.pdf.