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ODU President Details Steps to Bolster Student Safety

By Bill Sizemore - The Virginian-Pilot - August 24, 2011

Responding to a series of high-profile crimes near the campus, Old Dominion University President John Broderick said Tuesday the university has taken several steps to enhance student safety.

Prominent among them is the creation of a new executive position, chief operating officer, with direct responsibility for public safety.

Campus crime statistics at ODU are on a par with other Virginia universities, Broderick said in his annual State of the University address. Nevertheless, he said, the fatal shooting of an ODU student in June and a string of robberies in neighborhoods around the campus are "unacceptable."

"Our priority continues to be making ODU a safe and supporting community for everyone," he said.

David Harnage, a former ODU vice president, has been hired as chief operating officer. Among his primary duties will be supervising the campus police department and strengthening the university's relationship with the city of Norfolk, Broderick said.

Most crime occurs off campus, where many ODU students live, he said, necessitating close collaboration with the city.

The campus and city police departments are working to enhance their joint policing efforts, Broderick said. Norfolk has provided additional officers in squad cars, on bicycles and on foot to patrol the area surrounding the campus, he said.

The two departments will offer training to students and residents through a Citizens Police Academy, he said.

In addition, ODU is expanding an existing safety task force and broadening its focus to include education, literacy, economic stability and community stabilization in the surrounding neighborhoods, Broderick said.

ODU is also planning an initiative to encourage area landlords to conduct a voluntary safety audit and comply with a checklist of community standards for their properties.

Christopher Cummings, a 20-year-old junior from Woodbridge, was fatally shot and his roommate wounded June 10 in the rental house they shared on West 42nd Street. There have been no arrests in the case.

The house is in an area hit hard by robberies, home invasions and burglaries, often involving students.

More than 1,000 people - including federal, state and local elected officials - attended Broderick's breakfast address at ODU's Ted Constant Convocation Center. The fall semester begins Saturday.

Original content from The Virginian-Pilot