ODU Police Chief on weekend shootings: ‘Something needs to change’

Posted at 11:43 PM, Oct 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-19 23:48:26-04

Norfolk, Va. - It should have been a festive atmosphere around the Old Dominion University campus over the weekend as people celebrated the school's homecoming.

But from Friday night to Sunday morning, four students were shot and a sailor was killed in two separate incidents.

Both shootings happened at parties a couple blocks from campus, according to police.

"Obviously something needs to change and something needs to be better still," ODU Police Chief Rhonda Harris told NewsChannel 3 Monday.

Exactly what that is, they're still working on.

Harris says ahead of homecoming, they stepped up patrols and they only had minor incidents on campus this weekend.

The problem, as it's been in the past, is the area just outside the campus which Norfolk Police and ODU work together to patrol.

"It's not an easy challenge for the police to figure out what's happening inside someone's home and be able to prevent that or preempt that before it occurs," said Harris.

One thing she believes could help is getting more students use their new LiveSafe App.

"They can text in safety tips and they can contact the police without being so obvious that they're picking up the phone and they're calling the police to report something," said Harris.

According to ODU, it's already proven beneficial since it was launched last year.  Over the past school year, they received more than 200 crime tips with the new app compared to just three with their previous email application.

It was one of several safety enhancements that went into effect last year.  They also added more cameras, improved lighting and enhanced their SafeRide program.

ODU officials say those measures have helped reduce crime on campus, but they still need to work on more strategies for dealing with crime around their school.

"If that's reverting to old fashioned policing where the cops are out of the car, on bikes or they're on foot ... making those kinds of contacts with people, I think there's a lot of value to that," said Harris.

They're also in the process of hiring 5 more police officers.

As for the weekend shootings, the Norfolk Police Dept. is the lead agency handling the shootings, but Harris says ODU Police have been meeting with them to help with the investigation.

So far, no one has been arrested in either case.