VCU shifting their public safety model from policing to fostering safety, well-being


RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginia Commonwealth University’s public safety model will be undergoing a transition, according to a release, as the university works to implement a series of targeted reforms.

VCU said their ‘mission’ calls on them to address “real issues such as law enforcement’s interactions with ethnic, racial, gender and sexual minority communities, in particular those intersecting with African American communities.”

VCU police said a mass email with the new public safety model information from VCU President Dr. Michael Rao and all cabinet members went out to all students, faculty and staff Tuesday night.

“I really didn’t think about it at the university level so much, but certainly it’s still relevant at the university level, so I guess I’m glad, firstly, that it’s being discussed,” said VCU Student Cody Havens.

“I think that’s great to get kind of community involvement,” Havens said about the university asking for feedback.

Here’s a look at what the university wants their new model to do:

  • Implement Civilian Advisory Committee: The committee will be meeting regularly to discuss the progress made on the new model and assist with the development. Provide your suggestions by filling out this form.
  • Increase mental health professionals: VCU is looking to increase their safety, mental health, outreach and wellness staff. These mental health professionals will be placed in roles that do not require sworn officers.
  • Fair and impartial policing: VCU manages its own state-certified law enforcement academy — separate from local agencies. They said they will continue to implement policies, conduct training, solicit feedback and develop initiatives that promote fair and equitable treatment of everyone.
  • Facilitate transparency: The university wants to enhance VCU Police’s safety reports and crime logs by developing a new public safety dashboard. The dashboard will include 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.

Havens told 8News that compared to his previous university, he feels that interactions he’s observed between VCU police and students is “less confrontational.” However, he is happy to see further action being taken.

“Certainly, violence towards black people can happen since students can be as well, but I feel like they’re (VCU Police) more kind of on the side of the students. But I still think it’s very important to be discussed and have an action plan after all that’s been seen,” Havens said.

In the months to come, the university said they will be moving forward and working on this new model that prioritizes the safety and wellness of everyone at VCU.

As VCU works to build this new model, they are looking for community feedback. You can share your thoughts with VCU at or email

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