A new community safety advisory committee comprising officials from Albemarle County, the City of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia will evaluate additional initiatives and programs to bolster current efforts to enhance safety in the communities in the region.
The collaborative effort – discussed at a Sept. 30 meeting attended by Charlottesville Mayor Satyendra Huja, City Manager Maurice Jones, Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Jane Dittmar, County Chief Executive Tom Foley, U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan and U.Va. Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Patrick D. Hogan – will focus on what immediate and long-term steps can be taken to augment public safety at the University and surrounding neighborhoods and businesses.
“The City, County and University have enjoyed a strong working relationship on issues of mutual interest for many years,” Huja said. “The safety of our entire community, including the students, faculty and staff of the University, is of the utmost importance to all of us. While we all work very hard to make our region the safe place that it is, there can always be room for improvement. I believe this new safety effort is a very positive development in the longstanding relationship with our partners.”
Huja, Dittmar and Sullivan agreed to form a new ad hoc community safety advisory committee that will be charged with conducting a public safety audit and developing recommendations to enhance safety resources and programs. Jones, Foley and Hogan will co-chair the committee, which will include up to three representatives from each agency.
“The safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff remains our foremost concern,” said Sullivan, who recently formed a similar safety working group at the University. “This fall we are approaching safety issues with a renewed focus and energy, and through our collaborative efforts with the city and county we will intensify our efforts to make the University as safe as possible.”
The membership of the committee will be finalized in the next few days, and the first meeting will convene within two weeks.
“Feeling safe and actually being safe is a basic right of those who live in our community,” Albemarle County Board of Supervisors Chair Jane Dittmar said. “We commend President Sullivan’s leadership convening us to coordinate safety initiatives among our governmental entities. Without a doubt, this will benefit the greater Charlottesville area.”
The public safety audit will include an environmental assessment to identify opportunities to expand blue light emergency phones and surveillance cameras, and to install additional lighting. A pedestrian study will identify high foot traffic areas, and an analysis of crime data will identify potential “hot spots.” The committee will also consider best practices in community policing, safety awareness and alcohol education programs at other municipalities with a large public research university and academic medical center.