by ELIANA RAMIREZ
On Sept. 30, The UMW Police Department released the Annual Security Report, which shows the statistics for crimes on or off campus at all three UMW campuses—Fredericksburg, Dahlgren and Stafford—from 2020–2022. It also includes UMW policies and regulations for alcohol and drug use; sexual assault and sexual misconduct resources that include medical care, legal and University reporting options for victims of sexual assaults and crimes; programs for the prevention of and protection from such crimes; and fire safety and statistics. To obtain a printed copy of the 46-page report, students and interested individuals in the community may go to the Department’s headquarters in South Hall.
UMW Chief of Police Michael Hall said that there have been no new changes to the formatting of the report, but “if you look at the statistics, numbers are down, which is a good thing.” Hall said that he’s glad students respond to calls or call the UMW Police when they feel something is wrong.
The Annual Security Report is mandated every year by federal law. According to the email released at the end of September by Amy Jessee, the executive director of university communications, the report is a requirement of the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, also referred to as the Clery Act.
UMW Police Lieutenant Michael Cornelius is responsible for gathering all the relevant data for the report in collaboration with university departments, including the Title IX coordinator’s office, the Talley Center, Athletics, Student Affairs, Office of Residence Life, Office of Student Conduct and Responsibility, Student Activities and the Student Health Center. He also includes questionnaire data from the local law enforcement agencies that work with the Stafford and Dahlgren campuses and staff. Each entity is asked to provide information about any cases they have worked on or reported that the UMW Police is not aware of.
According to the report, there are several safety systems in place, including more than 180 emergency telephones as well as a closed-circuit camera monitoring system on all three campuses. However, some students note certain locations around campus that make them feel unsafe.
Cameron Rico, an undeclared freshman, said she had never heard about the annual security report before.
“I feel safe during the day but at night I don’t feel safe when I’m walking under the tunnel near Vocellis,” said Rico. She feels that there should be more light underneath the tunnel.
Hall’s commitment for himself and the department is “To ensure the safety and well-being of our community, regardless of the [individual’s] background.” Hall added that his mission includes “earning [the students’] trust and making a difference directly or indirectly, making that difference in those students who may come here with a negative outlook on society or law enforcement, … [and] earning the trust of our community members, being honest, talking through situations.”
UMW police officers are able to help individuals that are in an emergency.
“[W]hen we have a student or community member that’s in crisis at two o’clock in the morning, a mandate all our officers are seeing, including myself, are a CIT-certified with crisis intervention members,” said Hall.
According to Hall, the Department has to complete a certain amount of training hours so that, in an emergency, police officers are able to maintain the situation and stop students from doing any harm to themselves or another person until more help arrives.
The UMW Police Department encourages anyone who is a victim of or witness to a crime to report it promptly and accurately. Additionally, Hall encouraged students to download the RAVE Guardian safety app to report crimes, which provides one-touch connection to UMW police or 911, as well as live texting with communication staff, according to Hall.
The UMW Police Department operates year-round and 24 hours a day. It is made up of 16 sworn police officers who are certified by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, as well as a civilian support staff.
The Department works closely with the Fredericksburg Police Department and Virginia State Police, as well as their respective chiefs and command staff. The UMW Police and Fredericksburg Police meet twice per year, and this partnership also contributes to an ease of obtaining reports, especially due to their consistent collaboration during the year.
“They have jurisdiction, just like we have jurisdiction,” said Hall, referring to the Fredericksburg Police Department. This allows each police department to respond to calls on each other’s territory. “UMW police also have jurisdiction in Stafford and King George [County],” said Hall.
Hall reports directly to UMW cabinet member, Juliette Landphair, who is the vice president of the Division of Student Affairs. The cabinet members all report directly to UMW President Troy Paino. Each month, Hall has a one-on-one meeting with Paino where he reports what is happening on campus and Paino provides feedback on what he has heard in his discussions and meetings with students.
In addition to his role as police chief, Hall is also the vice president of Public Safety at UMW. For this reason, both the police department and the public safety office at UMW report to Hall, who has been at UMW since 2009 and has 39 years of law enforcement experience. Hall worked with local and state police for 25 years before coming to UMW and rose throughout the ranks of the department before becoming chief, a position he has held for 9 years. Once promoted, Hall focused on having the police department recognized as an accredited agency by the Virginia Law Enforcement Professional Standards Commission, and this status was achieved in 2018.
Important telephone numbers for all students to have at hand:
-On campus emergency: 540-654-4444
-Talley Center: 540-654-1053
-UMW Title IX Coordinator: 540-654-1166