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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

ODU Police Department Named Finalist for National Award

By Jon Cawley

An ongoing initiative to enhance University safety through innovative strategies earned Old Dominion Police accolades from the National Campus Safety Summit as a 2017 finalist for Department of the Year.

The National Campus Safety Summit is the premier annual conference concerning higher education public safety issues. The Old Dominion University Police Department was recognized for using "innovative engagement and problem-solving strategies, community partnerships and technology" to drive substantive reductions in crime "that fosters a safe living and learning community."

"It's nice to see that all the hard work and efforts that have been put into place in this police department are being recognized by an independent organization," said ODU Police Chief Rhonda Harris. "We flipped the script completely on what we were doing before. This validates the hard work of our officers, they're out there hustling," Harris said.

Those efforts resulted in measurable reductions in campus incidents, including:

A 36 percent drop in violent crime on campus;

A 35 percent reduction in all crime occurring in residence halls;

A 76 percent reduction in residence hall burglaries; and

An 80 percent drop in total burglaries on campus.

Summit organizers noted that the University was guided by input from key stakeholders in developing a strategy that included, lighting assessments and enhancements, a "Camera for Safety" program that installed more than 1,700 cameras on campus and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) assessments for new and existing buildings.

ODU police has also provided specialized training for its officers and taken a leadership role in broadening collaboration with the University's Student Government Association as well as the Norfolk Police Department, Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control, The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Additionally, the University implemented the LiveSafe app, which includes a "safe walk" monitoring feature and the ability for users to communicate directly with police through voice calls or texts.

View the YouTube video above to learn more about successful community policing initiatives at Old Dominion University that not only effect safety on campus, but also extend to neighboring residents and the business community.