The VCU Police Department reports that more than 1,130 users so far have downloaded the new LiveSafe security app since its launch on Aug. 16. The app allows users to send pictures and videos, text a tip or make a phone call to VCUPD.
“It’s been my experience that students are a group of onlookers,” said VCU police chief John Venuti. “Anytime anything happens…everyone’s phones are out recording, taking pictures, everything. Now you guys have the ability to send us photographs and video of an incident very quickly and very easily, and then it’s dispatched like any other call.”
Although the cost of the program was not disclosed, VCU is using the app on a one-year renewable contract. Several other universities have also started using LiveSafe, including the University of New Hampshire, and Winthrop Univeristy in South Carolina.
LiveSafe debuted as part of VCUPD’s launch of several new safety features this fall, including increased surveillance on the core campus area and altered shift times and locations for officers.
Kristina Anderson, a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech shooting, developed the app. Anderson has since dedicated herself to campus safety through technology.
Recalling the morning of the shooting, Anderson told the Los Angeles Times in April, “If smartphone capability was as widespread back then, I probably would have seen an email, texts or pictures all pointing to this one incident on campus, but we had no prior knowledge anything was going on.”
Reports can be sent to VCUPD anonymously or with your personal information, allowing the police to contact you should they need to find you or learn further information about the reported incident.
Venuti said that although there are several advantages for both user and response teams to using the LiveSafe app versus other forms of communication, the VCU PD encourages any form of contact.
“I don’t care how you talk to us, as long as you talk to us,” Venuti said.
To report a crime, make a noise complaint, or report suspicious activity, students can still use Text a Tip by texting “VCUtip” to 274637, call the police station directly at (804) 828-1234, find information on the police website, or use the ERTZ Emergency Response phones found on campus.