A photo of three people in a circle talking in a public park. Other people are walking around the park in the background.
VCU Police officers speak with a resident in Richmond’s Fan District neighborhood during National Night Out in August 2023. With a recent expansion, VCU Police jurisdiction will include Richmond’s Randolph and Oregon Hill neighborhoods starting in the first quarter of 2024. (File photo, VCU Police)

Richmond City Council approves expanding VCU Police jurisdiction to two off-campus neighborhoods

The Randolph and Oregon Hill communities requested the move, which would take effect in 2024 after court approval.

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Following community requests, Richmond City Council voted Monday night to expand the VCU Police Department’s jurisdiction to include the Randolph and Oregon Hill neighborhoods.

With the expansion, Virginia Commonwealth University’s core geography for its Monroe Park and MCV campuses remains unchanged – only the VCU Police jurisdictional boundaries are changing. VCU Police and the Richmond Police Department have the same authority on and around VCU’s campuses, referred to as concurrent jurisdiction.

The jurisdiction expansion into Randolph and Oregon Hill, which would go into effect in the first quarter of 2024, enables VCU Police to enforce laws, investigate cases and make arrests in both neighborhoods, which are located near campus and are home to many VCU students. VCU Police has had concurrent jurisdiction with the Richmond Police Department for more than 30 years, with the last expansion in 2019.

Earlier this year, Richmond City Council member Stephanie Lynch, whose 5th District includes Randolph and Oregon Hill, expressed interest in having a VCU Police presence in the off-campus neighborhoods.

“We have a heartfelt appreciation for VCU Police being willing to play a stronger role in providing a safer environment for residents in Oregon Hill and Randolph,” Lynch said. “And responding to the community to give us extra support.”

John Venuti, VCU’s associate vice president for public safety and chief of police, said his department’s focus has been, and continues to be, serving students, faculty and staff. While the Richmond Police Department will still be the primary response and patrol agency for Randolph and Oregon Hill, VCU’s responses will be for VCU-affiliated community members.

“This gives us the ability to handle cases involving students, faculty and staff in those areas,” Venuti said. “For example, when we get a call from a student who lives there, we can immediately connect them with resources at the university and totally address the needs of the situation. Additionally, if neighbors have questions or concerns specifically for VCU Police, we can address those and free up Richmond police to handle other calls.”

VCU Police currently has jurisdiction in the nearby neighborhoods of Carver and parts of the Fan District and Jackson Ward. 

VCU Police has 95 sworn officers, and the department is exploring adding several positions to accommodate new calls for service.

There is a final step in the process for expansion: The city has to petition the court for the expanded, concurrent jurisdiction pursuant to a request from the Richmond Police Department. According to state law, the Richmond Circuit Court ultimately approves the petition from the city.