NORFOLK -- Officials at Old Dominion University have new safety enhancements in place for the start of the fall semester.
It's good news for students after a perception last year that crime was on the rise. Students were victims of at least eight violent crimes on and around the ODU campus during the 2013-2014 school year. There were shootings near campus, multiple armed robberies on and near campus and a deadly assault across the street from the campus that killed 20-year-old Paul Johnson.
One of the key elements of the safety initiative is a mobile app called LiveSafe. Developed by a survivor of the 2007 Virginia Tech tragedy, it allows students to contact police and get information.
ODU Police Chief Rhonda Harris unveiled the app Friday morning.
Other safety enhancements include the installation of more than 1,060 security cameras at residence halls, parking lots and other public spaces; free home safety evaluations for students who live off campus and increased patrols by Norfolk Police in residential and commercial areas near the campus.
ODU President John R. Broderick is confident that the new measures will make the campus a safer place.
Read/download Broderick's letter to students
'Never before in our 85-year history have we begun a school year with so many assets in place to bolster our students' success and quality of life while simultaneously providing a cache of essential tools and enforcement strategies to keep them safe,' said Broderick. 'Old Dominion takes its safety precautions seriously and I commend our staff for their achievement in advancing these efforts over the summer.'
On the WVEC13 Facebook page, people say they're glad to hear about the effort.
Donna C. wrote 'Donna Cresswell Chugg It would also help if they would stop prohibiting Students, who have paid for parking passes, from parking in the parking garage by the TED when there is an event! often times my Daughter must park elsewhere and walk across campus to get to her classes. but I appreciate ANY effort that is made to increase campus safety.'
Kelly H said, 'I think this is great! I live near the campus and walk through there regularly. I wish they would make the ODU alerts available to those of us who live near by but aren't students.'
Nicole B. added, 'I think it should help. Hey, ya gotta start somewhere.'