This summer, the work will really begin.
It has been a little more than a month since Chief Curtis Davis took over for longtime Farmville Police Chief Doug Mooney, but already the ideas are spilling over. Many of those ideas have to do with Farmville’s biggest population center and employer, Longwood.
Davis walked into a department that had forged close ties with Longwood, whose police department is consistently ranked among the best in the country. That relationship is only getting closer.
"We are constantly thinking of ways to make both the student population and surrounding community safe, enhance security and keep the crime rate low," said LUPD Chief Bob Beach, a veteran law enforcement officer with more than four decades of experience. "In large part, that hinges on a very strong working relationship between our two police departments—which is why we’ve had so much success."
Longwood and Farmville are historically extremely safe places. By almost any measure, this area’s rate of crime is one of the lowest in the state—due in large part to the way the two departments work together. "We already do extremely well," said Davis. "We’re at the point where we are fine-tuning our efforts and working on some of the smaller things that keep all of us safe and secure. The relationship between LUPD and FPD is a big part of that."
That relationship is boosted by the recognition of LUPD as one of the most sophisticated and forward-thinking police departments in the nation. For the sixth straight year, Longwood was ranked by Security Magazine as one of the top 500 police departments in the country, and one of the top 20 departments in higher education. That kind of recognition doesn’t come without an extremely active police force committed to being proactive.
The newest way the two departments are working together is on a grant that the town received to enhance police operations. "We are planning to partner with Longwood and develop some crime-analysis software for both of us to use," said Davis. "We are going to dig into the analytics so we can predict where we’ve seen crime historically, identify trends and get out ahead of them. It’s going to be a boon for everyone in town."
Longwood has several initiatives in place to improve the safety of students, including:
- Livesafe. Developed by a Virginia Tech survivor, Livesafe is a mobile phone application that is centered on student safety. With unique features like a virtual walk home, silent text-messaging with police dispatchers, location sharing and simple, quick ways to share tips with police, the application is in use on campuses across the country. The app is in use now on campus, and will be part of orientation in the fall. It’s one more way that Longwood students are able to stop trouble before it happens.
- RAD classes. Rape Aggression Defense classes are available through the Longwood Police Department and include practical self-defense tactics that are easy to learn and employ, awareness and avoidance training, and risk-reduction strategies.
- Student Safety Organization.The student safety organization provides free escorts anywhere on campus at night to students who feel uncomfortable walking alone. Escorts are trained by the police department, carry radios and wear identifiable clothing.
- Coffee with the Chief. Several times a year, Beach invites students to share concerns or issues with him over coffee.
In addition, Longwood’s emergency management office continually reviews the Continuity of Operations Plan and Emergency Operations Plan to ensure the campus is prepared for any possible emergency.
From the town’s perspective, the 5,000 students who show up each fall represent a sizeable increase in the town’s population and a large group of constituents who have a unique set of concerns. Davis hopes to forge a better relationship with students through an advisory board. "It will only be beneficial to both the town and student populations if we can sit down together and explain what we are doing and the expectations we have," said Davis. "When we have a system in place where we can talk through any issues that may arise, we’ll be better-equipped to deal with them in a positive and proactive way."
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