VCU Police hosts leadership training following calls for police reform

Local News

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — For six days, the Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department and its policing partners in Richmond participated in a training called “Every Officer is a Leader.” The goal of the program is to change up tradition and empower all officers to take a leadership role when responding to calls.

“Following calls for police reform last year I wanted to totally change the way we approach policing,” John Venuti, VCU police chief and associate vice president for public safety told VCU News. “This training encourages all of us to think about our motivations and how best to solve problems with the community, no matter the challenges. We want to be focused on highly effective solutions.”

VCU opened up the training to several surrounding agencies including Chesterfield, Henrico and Richmond.

Richmond Police Chief Gerald Smith said content on leadership, transformation, communications and efficiency for police departments would definitely help his organization.

“This course can only enhance the changes and direction in which [Richmond Police] is going now, not only at the executive level, but all the way to new recruits in the academy,” he said. 

This training comes after calls for police reform grew last year. In June, VCU announced a series of public safety recommendations to improve campuses.

Venuti said he’s started implementing those recommendations, which, for him, means a departure from business as usual when addressing safety needs on the academic.

“The future of public safety at VCU involves strong leadership at every level,” Venuti said. “We’ve never had the ability to implement a top-to-bottom leadership program that can reach all staff. It’s an exciting time because this really gets everyone — at VCUPD and at other agencies — on the same page for what’s ahead.”

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