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Police help Richmond campers beat the heat

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VCU Police Ofc. Gregory Felton explains to campers how the department uses its mobile command unit for special events and emergency management operations.

More than 60 summer campers took a timeout from the sweltering heat last week to learn more about policing in Richmond. On July 19, officers and academy recruits from the Virginia Commonwealth University and Richmond Police departments met with campers, aged 8 to 12, from the Mary and Frances Youth Center’s Lobs and Lessons tennis program and the Police Athletic League.

VCU Police provided campers and counselors with Kona shave ice pops and invited groups to explore the department’s mobile, emergency command unit. Richmond Police provided mounted units, K9s and motorcycle units for interactive displays.

Tina Carter, Director of the Mary and Frances Youth Center, said her campers had many questions for officers and some were learning about mounted units and motorcycle units for the first time. Police explained how horses, unlike traditional vehicles, could travel on trails and that, yes, officers on motorcycles could write tickets.

“Our youth had the opportunity not only to interact with officers in a positive setting, but explore different career tracks within law enforcement, many of which they never knew existed,” Carter said.

VCU Police officers provided ice pops to campers and counselors during a summer outreach event on VCU’s Monroe Park Campus.
VCU Police officers provided ice pops to campers and counselors during a summer outreach event on VCU’s Monroe Park Campus.

A Richmond Police recruit, and VCU alumnus, helped organize the event. William Kress of the 115th Richmond Police Academy graduated from VCU in 2015 with dual degrees in homeland security and emergency preparedness, and political science and criminal justice.

“Outreach like this is a good way for kids to meet officers and learn about the various types of resources that police have,” Kress said. “The classes I took at VCU better prepared me for the police academy — they also helped me understand the importance of connecting with the community, which is definitely a key to modern policing.”

For current VCU Police Academy recruits, community policing is a cornerstone of the curriculum. Recruits must develop and implement their own fundraising and outreach projects before they graduate in November. In addition to the July 19 event with campers, recruits recently attended new parent receptions and handed out water to pedestrians in 90-degree heat on both the Monroe Park and MCV Campuses.

“As a campus police officer, being involved in the campuses and city you serve is really crucial to building and maintaining relationships,” said VCU Police Chief John Venuti. “We’re always looking for opportunities to meet with groups from across the university, and guests, so they know we’re here for them. Events like this help recruits learn the value of that outreach.”

Richmond Police introduced multiple mounted units to campers and counselors from the Mary and Frances Youth Center and the Police Athletic League.
Richmond Police introduced multiple mounted units to campers and counselors from the Mary and Frances Youth Center and the Police Athletic League.

 

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