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National Campus Safety Organization Recognizes ODU/Norfolk Police Partnership

By Jon Cawley

A national campus law enforcement organization will produce a whitepaper on a successful community policing partnership between Old Dominion University and the City of Norfolk that has resulted in dramatically reduced crime statistics.

Old Dominion Police Chief Rhonda Harris traveled with Assistant Norfolk Police Chief Francis Emerson to Queens University, in Charlotte, N.C. on Aug. 1 for an event sponsored by the Department of Justice-funded National Center for Campus Public Safety. During the "Campus Policing in an Urban Environment" event, Harris and Emerson participated in a forum that defined challenges and discussed strategies the police agencies implemented and which have led to reductions in crime and enhanced quality of life on ODU's campus and the surrounding Norfolk community.

Harris said the forum, which will serve as the basis for the organization's whitepaper, focused on significant challenges related to campus policing in urban environments and identifying promising practices to ensure safer campus communities. The white paper will detail successful policing solutions that have emerged from the collaborative approach taken by the ODU and Norfolk police departments.

"We were invited because of the great success we have had at ODU in reducing crime," Harris said.

Since the partnership emerged, Old Dominion has seen:

  • 36 percent drop in violent crimes;
  • 80 percent reduction in all burglaries;
  • 76 percent slide in residence hall burglaries;
  • 72 percent drop in liquor law violations; and
  • A 35 percent reduction in total crime in residence halls.

Likewise, Emerson added the City of Norfolk has recorded a 14 percent drop in total crime citywide.

"We are doing this by working together and developing strategies," Harris said. "We're seeing great success."

Harris said the partnership includes collaboration between street officers, crime analysts and investigative units on trending issues. Both agencies have taken turns providing Roll Call Training at the other Department related to disorderly houses, quality of life issues and criminal activity stemming from house parties. At Old Dominion, the University has enhanced lighting on campus, added over 1700 cameras on campus and the surrounding neighborhoods while partnering with Norfolk Community Resource officers, emergency management personnel, Rent Ready Program, and other City initiatives.

"Street level officers are working hand in hand on addressing crime issues on any given night," Harris said. "It's something both agencies have taken very seriously and we are happy with the results we are seeing."

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