Online story by Zachary Holden
Video story by Brandon Agee
RICHMOND, Va. — The G4S is a new security force that students will see patrolling the campus throughout the night. In a survey conducted last year, the VCU community told the VCU police department they wanted to see more police and security around the campus so they would feel safer at night.
The vehicles were put in place as part of a 16-week pilot program to see if they will actually enhance safety on campus and lower students concerns when they are out at night.
John Venuti, VCU Chief of Police, said he will have a police force of nearly 100 officers this year to handle campus related incidents. Some will patrol on bicycles to make access to places on campus much easier.
Venuti said the G4S security force is unarmed and cannot make arrests.
“They are strictly eyes and ears, they do not have any special powers or police powers,” said Venuti. “They’re instructions are when they observe suspicious or criminal activity, they have our radios.”
Eric Davies, a VCU student, was a victim of armed robbery in November 2011 while on campus. He said having the G4S on campus will only benefit students and faculty.
“Having more people around is going to be a good thing because when I was first approached, there was literally no one on this street” said Davies. “If there were [people] on that street, I seriously doubt they would have approached me.”
Although he lost his computer, calculator and some textbooks, Davies did give the police force credit for helping him out after the nerve-wracking experience.
“The police had a really good response,” said Davies. “By the time I hung up on the phone, there were already a couple police cars here.”
The program will last until the end of the fall semester and then it will be assessed. The $35,000 program is being funded by VCU Police with budget savings from last year.