NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - After two recent shootings near Old Dominion University, the school's police chief and Norfolk Police spoke with WAVY.com about extra safety measures being taken on and around campus.
ODU Police Chief Rhonda L. Harris came to the university little more than a year ago from Rutgers University. There she worked to protect more than 60,000 students. At ODU, with a student body of about 25,000, controlling crime is more of a challenge, especially as the fall semester gets underway.
For the last two weekends in a row, two shootings have been reported at 41st Street and Killam Street. That's just steps away from campus.
"We've increased patrols in the area surrounding the campus, and that actually amped up a couple of weeks ago," Harris said. "We were partnered this weekend with state agents. We were out. We were doing enforcement on alcohol violations."
The university recently took a hard stance on house parties in communities neighboring the campus. According to Chief Harris, social media is a key factor in student-hosted ragers.
"Social media is getting the word out about the parties, and the parties are growing bigger than the people hosting them anticipated, and are getting out of hand," Harris said. "But we're addressing that proactively. We're out getting enforcement."
ODU Student Nadia Vazquez told WAVY.com that parties need to be regulated.
"That's on people's personal level. You need to find out who's in your house and who's coming to your house. If you don't know, then they don't need to be in there. They gotta go," Vazquez said.
Caroline Bryant, another ODU student, said more frequent police patrols are in order, given the recent shootings.
"Disappointing and pathetic are the two words to sum up everything," Bryant said. "Monitor the people that are paying to go to your school. It's not hard. Norfolk Police and ODU police should be out here every single night."
But Harris says it's not that simple.
"You can't stop everything," Harris said. "In reality, police aren't going to be able to stop every criminal incident."
The Norfolk Police Department is also taking special measures to address the recent spike in crime near ODU, according to spokesperson Chris Amos.
"While we are not at liberty to discuss many of the specific strategies being implemented, I can tell you that our most noticeable response will be an increase in personnel working the area and the increased visibility, particularly on the weekends," Amos told WAVY.com on Tuesday. "Additionally, as we have done in the past, random sweeps will take place involving not just NPD personnel, but also those of other departments within the City."
Amos said the department's Crime Prevention Unit continues to work with college communities in the area, making known the steps students and property owners can take to ensure safety.
Amos and Harris both urge anyone with suspect information on criminal activity to call police. To contact ODU police, call (757) 683-4656, or call Norfolk Police at the Crime Line: 1-888-LOCK-U-UP.
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