RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Police officials have released the Annual Security and Fire Safety report for 2023, revealing an increase in aggravated assaults.
Data for the report was collected by the VCU Police Department along with other law enforcement agencies as part of the Clery Act which requires all higher education institutions to report campus crime statistics along with additional security information to its students and the public.
For VCU, the Clery-defined geographic categories that are to be reported include on-campus, non-campus entities — buildings or properties owned or controlled by VCU that are not reasonably contiguous to the main campus — and the public — within or immediately adjacent to and accessible from a VCU campus.
Reported crimes include aggravated assault, murder, motor vehicle thefts, rape, robbery and more.
The latest report includes data from a number of different crime categories — including murder, motor vehicle theft, rape, robbery and more. However, one of the most notable changes is the recorded increase in cases of aggravated assault in 2022 — with 20 incidents compared to six in 2021.
Brian McNeil, the director of public relations for VCU, told 8News that nine of the 20 incidents of aggravated assault on the Monroe Park Campus were handled by VCU Police while the rest were taken over by other law enforcement agencies.
Six of the nine incidents were related to the use of an airsoft pellet or BB gun. McNeil said that of the remaining three incidents, one case involved the use of pepper spray, another physical contact and finally, brandishing a firearm.
VCU Junior Jenna Grigsby told 8News she would like to see an increase in patrolling by university police and campus security as she has run into issues on campus specifically frequenting the library.
“Anyone can walk in, it’s not strict to students and when I’m there late at night trying to study and these people are being weird and following me around there’s no one there,” she said.
Another student, Charlize Bjanes, said she always carries pepper spray, keeping it attached to her personal keys. While she knows it can’t steer away every crime, it’s an added step to the measures she says she has to take.
“Being a female, [a] young female around campus — especially in the city — we have to be aware of our surroundings and make sure that we know what’s happening at all costs and not be distracted with our phones or having earbuds in,” she said.
Additional illegal offenses that have had slight increases include drug abuse arrests, motor vehicle thefts and rape.
Arson, burglary and dating violence are some crimes that have decreased while murder, incest and statutory rape are among the few that have seen zero incidents in the last three years.
For a full list of numbers for all crimes on main and surrounding campuses, read the 2023 report on the VCU Police website.