NORFOLK, Va (WAVY) — Old Dominion University students met with the campus police chief as well as Norfolk’s Police chief on Monday evening.
The safety forum was timely, happening just days after a student was shot outside a house party. However, the student organizer said the forum was planned a few months back.
“I want to know, what are police doing to try to bridge the relationship between the ODU police, or the Norfolk police, and the community?” said student organizer Rachael Payton.
Payton said she was encouraged to organize the forum after the unrest that happened in Ferguson, MO. in August. Payton said she wanted to bring students and police together so each group might have a better understanding of the other.
Students asked candid questions of ODU Police Chief Rhonda Harris and Norfolk Police Chief Michael Goldsmith. Given the shooting that happened over the weekend, an ODU alum brought up that students feel they can’t go to an off-campus party without fearing a shooting will happen.
Norfolk Assistant Police Chief Larry Boone responded to the man saying students, and all Norfolk residents, need to make smart decisions, too.
“We’re going to put people in the areas in which we are having issues,” said Boone of stepping up patrols around campus. “You said it yourself, we can’t stop everything. So you guys have some skin in the game, too, and that is being responsible at certain hours of the night: where you put yourself.”
Goldsmith said he gives college students the same advice he gives his own family about staying safe when at school.
“It’s important that all of us do things that will keep us safe,” Goldsmith said. “We want to make sure that we’re locking our doors, that we’re traveling in groups.”
Harris said when ODU police and Norfolk police find themselves investigating a crime around campus, binge drinking almost always plays a role in the incident.
“I can say most of those incidents are related to somebody having too much alcohol, at some point in time,” Harris said.
Harris said the ODU Campus Police Dept. launched a new initiative that includes adding 1,060 security cameras on campus, free home safety evaluations for students who live on campus, and a campus safety mobile app.