The University Police Department (UPD) is a professional police department providing the same types of services as a municipal police department, as well as other services unique to an academic institution. The department works closely with administrators, students, faculty, and staff to create and maintain a secure atmosphere. Its statutory arrest jurisdiction includes the property of the University as well as adjacent streets and sidewalks.
In addition, the department participates in a mutual aid agreement with other local departments and in an agreement with the city of Charlottesville, which gives University officers concurrent jurisdiction in much of the city area surrounding the University.
Police officers patrol the Grounds on foot; in cars; and on bicycles, motor scooters, and motorcycles.
Safety is both the University's and the student's responsibility. Students will learn more about the following resources during Fall Orientation, but it is helpful for parents to reinforce their use.
Safe Ride (434.242.1122): This program provides rides home to students who would otherwise have to walk alone. When school is in session, Safe Ride operates from Sunday through Wednesday 12 midnight to 7 a.m., and Thursday through Saturday 2:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. On weekends, Safe Ride operates in concert with late-night University bus transportation. More details are available on the University Police website.
Late-Night Buses: The University Transit System (UTS) currently extends service every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday when school is in session and during exam weeks. Buses run every 15 minutes. The service calendar, routes, and timetables are available on the Parking and Transportation website.
Charge-a-Ride (434.295.4131): If students find themselves in situations where they need a cab but do not have the money to pay, they can show their student ID, be billed, and later reimburse the University with no questions asked. The University provides this program in partnership with Yellow Cab of Charlottesville.
TipSoft: This service is an anonymous way to submit information about crime to the University Police. Students and others can access it through the UPD website or through a free app called TipSubmit.
Rape Aggression Defense Classes: Students from a residence hall or student organization can request self-defense classes taught by University Police officers. Classes last for 12 hours and are broken down into three-hour blocks.
G4S Ambassadors: These personnel patrol on foot, on bicycle, and by vehicle in areas near the Grounds where students live and spend time. They are not law enforcement. They serve as extra eyes and ears on the street and will help anyone who needs assistance, whether that means a walking escort or calling for an ambulance. Students and visitors should look for their neon green shirts and vests marked “Ambassador” and not hesitate to ask them for help.
Public Safety Substation: The substation increases the visibility of both University Police and city of Charlottesville Police in the Corner area while providing a location for officers to meet with community members and to carry out administrative duties. Temporary since January 2015, the substation will move into a permanent home on the Corner in summer 2015.
Safety Apps: Students are free to choose the app that works best for them, especially since apps change frequently. "Circle of 6" is a free app for iPhone and Android that quickly connects users with six friends of their choice. This offers students the advantage of choosing local friends who can help them when they may need it.
Blue-Light Telephones: More than 500 blue-light phones are located throughout Grounds—in every residence hall, along frequently traveled sidewalks, and in parking lots. If students need assistance, all they need to do is pick up the phone and they immediately will be connected with the police.
In addition, several blue-light telephones have been installed off Grounds, near the Corner, in areas where students live and congregate.
Bicycle Registration: Students are encouraged to register their bicycles, scooters, and mopeds through University Police. Registration offers a safeguard in the event the bicycle is lost or stolen. Register online at the University Police website.
Safety Reminders for Students
Through programming and mass emails, students often are reminded to take responsibility for the safety of themselves and their friends. Parents can help reinforce safety tips such as the following:
- Call 911 from any phone, including your cell phone. You will be connected to a regional dispatcher who will send help based on your location.
- If on Grounds, just pick up one of the blue-light telephones. You automatically will be connected to University Police.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Avoid isolated areas.
- Avoid walking alone at night. Use Safe Ride, walk with friends, or take a late-night weekend bus.
- Use the lighted pathway system.
- Tell a friend where you are going and when you will return.
- Trust your instincts about a person or situation. If you feel uncomfortable, immediately report your concerns to police by calling 911. Police strongly encourage the use of 911 for this purpose.
Residence Hall Safety
- Never allow strangers to follow you into the building.
- Call 911 if you see someone in the building who seems suspicious.
- Never prop open card-reader doors or leave room doors open.
- Secure doors and windows prior to leaving.
- Keep doors and windows locked.
- Use outdoor lighting.
- Trim shrubs and trees to prevent the possibility of prowlers hiding in dense, darkened areas.
- Do not hesitate to contact police, by calling 911, about a person or situation that does not seem right. You will not have to give your name to police. Even if everything is fine, University Police do not in any way consider this "bothering" them.
- If you see any of the following, immediately call 911: a prowler; someone peeping into a residence; an individual watching, photographing, or filming an area; or any other behavior that under the circumstances seems odd, out of place, or suspicious.
- Work with your neighbors and fellow community members to ensure a safe environment.
Alcohol and Personal Safety
Even small amounts of alcohol can impair a person's judgment, making it less likely that the individual will assess risky situations accurately. Some individuals may take advantage of an intoxicated person or facilitate incapacitation by encouraging participation in drinking games or spiking beverages with high-concentration alcohol or other drugs.
The University provides harm reduction strategies throughout the year and through multiple media. Messages include using a buddy system, avoiding “punches” of unknown alcohol content, and using caution in unfamiliar environments. Students are reminded never to leave an intoxicated friend alone “to sleep it off.” They are urged to call 911 immediately if they observe even one sign of alcohol overdose (vomiting while passed out; unresponsive to stimulus; breathing is slow or shallow; or skin is blue, cold, or clammy) since death may result if untreated.
Student Health’s Gordie Center for Substance Abuse Prevention coordinates University-wide alcohol and other drug abuse prevention strategies and support for students in recovery. More information is available in the article, "Alcohol Use among Students: How Parents Can be Partners in Prevention."