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Mace & Crown | March 21, 2018

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Crime at Old Dominion University in 2015

Crime at Old Dominion University in 2015
Story by Amy Poulter

Last October, three separate incidents sparked community conversations about safety concerns on the ODU campus. On Oct. 16, two students were shot at a party on West 37th Street, just outside of the campus boundary. Keith Lendore, 26, was fatally shot. Two days later, two more students were shot while attending a party on West 40th Street. On Halloween night, Joseph Bose, a 20-year-old Hampton University student, was fatally shot while attending a party on West 35th Street, also outside of the campus boundary.

Though only one of these incidents occurred in the ODU Police Department’s jurisdiction, students took to Twitter to express their worries.

Old Dominion University

ODU police arresting a student in 2012.

Rhonda Harris, the Assistant Vice President for Public Safety with the ODU PD, said that despite these occurrences, ODU is no more dangerous than the average campus.

“ODU follows the national pattern,” Harris said. “You’re less likely to be a victim of a crime on a college campus than in the area surrounding the campus.”

The Mace gathered crime data from both the ODU and Norfolk Police Departments from Jan. 1 – December 31, 2015, within a one-mile radius of the official university address, 5115 Hampton Blvd. to examine what types of crimes are occurring and where they are taking place.

Map by Jugal Patel
Digital Editor

Most Problematic Locations

The District:
Owners of the off-campus housing facility have been working to eliminate criticism they have received in recent months in relation to crime.

“Frankly, there’s been a lot of misinformation reported recently,” said Derek Anderson, partner of Residential Housing Development, the company that built and owns The District.

Last year, a student’s apartment was broken into by three men who attacked the student, breaking his nose, while holding him at gunpoint. In April 2014, a security guard was charged with rape and two counts of forcible sodomy after he assaulted a resident while on duty. As a result, Asset Campus Housing, the management company for The District, has increased security staff and taken a new approach to hiring employees.

“The District has more than doubled the number of security guards per resident that ODU has,” said Stacey Lecocke, Senior Vice President of Asset Campus Housing. “We have also completely retrained our security and management staffs or property policies and procedures.”

This year, residents at The District have reported few incidents. Asset Campus Housing has also increased surveillance measures within the residence hall.

“We have invested more than $100,000 to install cameras around the property and are constantly working to make improvements so that our residents feel comfortable,” Lecocke said.

Advertisements went up in Webb Center in February advertising lower rental rates for available units in The District.

Killam Avenue:
This street, running south from West 51st Street to West 23rd Street, is the second-most common location of incidents on campus. Reports along Killam Avenue range from simple assault, hit-and-runs, shootings, narcotics and larcenies. A majority of the incidents reported on Killam Avenue take place below West 42nd Street.

“The biggest challenge is in the area adjacent to campus,” Harris said. “Killam Avenue itself is often a challenge particularly in the late evening or early morning hours from 37th Street through 42nd Street.”

The ODU PD has partnered with Norfolk PD to provide policing and technological support to their patrol units. The two departments have also begun collaborating on community training and educating students in area rental properties to ensure student safety. They have also created a program, called “Light It Up, Lock It Up,” where officers pass out lights bulbs and give safety tips to student renters in the area.

“It’s important to point out we do this work across they city,” said Daniel Hudson, Public Information Officer for the Norfolk PD.

Powhatan Avenue:
Residence halls and parking lots along Powhatan Avenue were the third-most common location among crime reports. Larcenies were often reported in Whitehurst Hall, while hit-and-runs were reported in parking lots along the street.

“On campus, by a large margin, larceny or theft, often of unattended property, is the most common offense,” Harris said.

Students are encouraged to lock their dorm rooms and always keep their personal belongings with them to avoid incidents of theft in residence halls.

Most Common Crimes and Dates

Larceny: 271
Though larcenies – the unlawful taking away of another’s personal property — were reported in many campus buildings, the most commonly reported location was an off-campus residence hall.

Simple Assault: 64
Simple assaults are defined as the attempt or threat to carry out bodily injury against another. In relation to ODU’s campus, simple assaults were most often reported along Killam Avenue and West 39th Street.

Hit-and-Run: 53
The majority of hit-and-run incidents were reported along Killam Avenue between 44th and 46th Streets. The second-most active hit-and-run area is in the Elkhorn Avenue parking garage, or Parking Garage A.

What Can Students Do?

Harris said that “campus on crime continues to decrease,” but students have options to ensure their own safety. The ODU PD has partnered with LiveSafe, an app that students can download and use on their iPhone or Android smartphones, to check-in with friends and police alike. LiveSafe, present on over 100 university campuses, is designed to enable students an easy and quick way to report incidents to police.

In the ODU community, there are more than 2,540 users registered through the LiveSafe app. From those users, almost 2,000 incidents have been reported to the ODU PD. Students most commonly use the app in SafeWalk mode.

Graphic by Jason Kazi
Assistant Digital Editor

“This feature empowers friends to virtually follow along with a friend when they are walking home from the library or after attending some other campus event,” said Shy Pahlevani, Founder and Executive Director of Education Partnerships at LiveSafe. “SafeWalking is becoming a daily habit for students.”

Recently, LiveSafe expanded their mobile platform to allow users to check-in with university police departments from alerts that are sent out to targeted geographic locations, indicating the student’s safety.

Students can also use the SafeRide shuttle service on campus and surrounding neighborhoods. Instead of walking alone at night or longer distances, students can schedule a pick-up from SafeRide with their cell phone and get home safely. The popularity of the shuttle service continues to increase.

“This year, we’re on track to serve 100,000 rides,” said Matthew Mccluney, ODU’s Transportation Planner. “Growing numbers are a sign that people like and depend on it.”

SafeRide recently added cameras on their vehicles this year, for the safety of both drivers and students.

Both the LiveSafe and SafeRide services are free for download for students to use. LiveSafe is currently available to Android and iPhone users. Android users will have to call SafeRide or visit their website to schedule a ride, as there isn’t currently an app available.

Visit our crime visualization here