Town Gown Community Relations Committee

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					                                                    Town Gown Community Relations Committee
                                                            Minutes October 25, 2001


Attendance:
Tom Sherman              Blacksburg Town Council                    tsherman@vt.edu
Ed Spencer               Virginia Tech Student Affairs              espencer@vt.edu
Kim Kirk                 Neighborhood Enhancement                   kkirk@blacksburg.gov
John Robertson           Student Legal Services                     johnesq@vt.edu
Chief Bill Brown         Blacksburg Police Department               bbrown@blacksburg.gov
Debra Duncan             Virginia Tech Police Department            duncan@vt.edu
Brian Montgomery         Student Government Association             bmontgom@vt.edu

Introduction
Dr. Spencer chaired the meeting and began by asking if the meetings for November and December
should be combined. A meeting date was set for Thursday, November 29, at 7:00 pm in the First Floor
Conference Room of the Municipal Building.

Minutes of September 27, 2001
The minutes were approved as written.

Reports and overview from Blacksburg Police and Virginia Tech Police
Chief Duncan provided a review of department activities for the period of August 15 – October 22. She
shared that in comparison to the past year, VT Police responded to fewer incidents with the exception of
alcohol poisoning. She stated there were 2 occurrences this year in comparison to 4 occurrences last
year. She handed out a chart identifying larcenies, all alcohol/drug occurrences, forcible entry and
assault (not aggravated).

Chief Brown shared that he asked his officers what the major issues are that his staff feels are most
important and what concerns they would like to share; and what is seen out there in comparison to
previous years, and have their been any changes since implementation of the Neighborhood
Enhancement Program?

There were no major concerns noted in comparison to previous fall sessions. It was determine that there
was an increase in the use of the two Mobile Speed Display Units. These units are placed randomly
about town to inform motorists of their current speed and educate residents of posted speed limits. In
addition, it is evident that there is more foot traffic in the downtown area. The swing shift report no new
concerns and the midnight shift reported common concerns remain which include intoxication, parking,
noise, trash, and periodic fights. This shift also indicated that since implementation of the NEP they have
been able to utilize the program as a resource and make referrals for citizens concerns.

Chief Brown reported that uniform officers no longer perform enforcement of public nuisance abatement
issues such as tall grass, weeds, debris, inoperable vehicles and so forth. This has enabled them to
enhance selective speed enforcement and more time to address other issues.

Drug task force increased participation and that partnerships have strengthened their efforts. They work
closely with Steve Baffo, area ABC Agent in reference to an ABC grant. He reported that it has been
noted that not all the sales are being consumed locally and stated they have determined sales are
leveling off or declining. Chief Brown introduced Mr. Steve Baffo and shared he has been assigned to
this area since December 2000. Mr. Baffo shared that he has noted issues of concerns when visiting
downtown businesses. Some of the infractions were concerning locked emergency exits, over
occupancy, and occasional parties selling alcohol without a license. Mr. Baffo shared they got their first
conviction for selling alcohol without a license recently. He also stated that the joint effort has work very
well and been extremely productive. He works with several of the detectives on campus concerning fake
identification.

Mr. Sherman asked about an update on the red-light running traffic concerns. Chief Brown stated that
there was a initiative to take it back to the General Assembly. Some of the concerns against approval
were that it is perceived as a moneymaking scheme and that municipalities could alter the timing of lights
to increase ticketing as a revenue generator. Chief Brown shared that there is a $200,000 grant that has
been awarded to assist the Center for Transportation Research in addressing speeding/traffic concerns of
red lights.

Steve Clarke asked about usage of drugs, marijuana, crack, cocaine, hashes, ecstasy, and heroin.
Chief Brown stated that police initiatives are to identify the purchaser with the ultimate goal to arrest the
supplier. He further stated it is extremely challenging to penetrate the alliance within the groups that
participate in distribution.

Steve Clarke stated he believed that while surveys (self reporting) indicated that in comparison to last
year, fake identification card usage has declined (38% admitted to having one last year) he shared that it
appears that students are projecting an unawareness or brazen defiance of the dangers and disregard
the laws. In addition, he shared that 26 % used to think that they could be arrested and a recent survey
indicated that number had risen to 58%. John Robertson stated that he has noted that the lack of
education is seen in his office. Students have left him the impression that breaking the law is not taken
seriously and willingly face the roulette of being caught and convicted.

Chief Duncan shared that a Community Policing initiate – “Adopt a Hall” program was incorporated
recently. On-campus officers are assigned to the residences hall to encourage students and officers to
become more familiar with each other. VT Police have been able to set up satellite offices to offer a place
for students to come to report something or if they are in need of assistance. This initiate is vital in their
efforts to be more visible and enhance relationships with faculty, staff and students. There has been a
demand for increased security so the division has been busy. She further shared that due to the external
demands and the initiation of new programs that the transition of being more proactive vs. reactive is
coming along nicely.

Mr. Sherman asked what was the reaction to initiation of this program from the officers and students? Dr.
Spencer stated he has heard some reaction and it has been favorable. Chief Duncan believed they are
off to a good start and it is an education process for both students and officers.

Steve Clarke asked about increased activity due to the football games. Chief Duncan stated that activity
has not increased however; she did note that the evening game schedule produces more activity in
comparison to the daytime game schedules. He also stated that the nature of alcohol arrest has been
consistent for minor offenses and there have been a greater number of the serious ones.

Chief Brown stated this is a time for building bridges and rapport between the officers and students both
on and off campus. He expressed that there continues to be a need to develop respect between the
officers and residents, with continued mentor / partnership approaches that he envisions will produce
significant changes that will be evident in the future.

Reconsideration of Logos
Ms. Kirk passed around samples of the logo for comments. Dr. Spencer led the discussion that
concluded to accept the logo that is present at the top of these minutes.

Report on Noise Ordinance
Chief Brown reviewed the issues that passed at the October 9, 2001 Town Council meeting. He further
stated that a number of citizens, to include student representation, spoke favorably at the public hearing.
He shared that he believes that removal of the warning will be a good tool for police officers and that
issues can be settled immediately at officer discretion. He further noted that there is a 30-day publicity
                                 th
period that ends on November 9 .
Mr. Sherman asked if Chief Brown’s officers had noted any increases of noise complaints in the
neighborhoods. Chief commented that he has not noted any in the single-family areas but that the more
active neighborhoods had increased. He stated he had visited some students to inquiry how they adjust
to residing within the high-noise areas and the comments he received include closing windows and
installation of a heat pump to help eliminate some of those concerns.

Steve Clarke asked about increased education concerning the noise ordinance. Chief Brown shared that
flyers had been posted in some complexes, that there were several articles in the collegiate times; press
information was also available on WTOB Channel 2, in welcome packets, and through email notifications.

Report of Blacksburg Transit Hearing

Ms. Wood shared that late night funding would continue and that initiatives to determine usage needs and
explore the system will continue.

Steve Clarke stated that as folks travel around town near the top of Progress Street at the 4-way stop by
Tech Terrace on the right side (between Broce and Patrick Henry) that there is a bus stop there that late
at night there is parking along the road and it is very dark and several students get off of there walking in
between cars. He suggested the Town look at the lighting in that location. Ms. Wood stated she would
do that.

Steve Clarke also stated concern about alternative traffic for students with the concern for a decrease of
routes. He stated he checked with the 6 local taxi services and that there is a typical 2-hour wait for a
ride. He also stated that some of the taxi services do not carry passengers out of town. He touted that a
fair new business call Hoopdie Ride has taken that route and provides an interesting and unique
alternative to taxi service.

Good of the Order

Neighborhood Mixer Invitation – November 15, 2001 at the Ramada Inn on Rt. 460 6:30 pm mixer, 7:00
pm program begins. Invitations are forthcoming in the next week with a request for R.S.V.P.

A general concern was expressed that alumni and hokies that do come into town, do not visit the
downtown area. There was a general consensus of the group to encourage more activity to the
downtown area. Chief Brown shared that the feelings to encourage are very mixed. He shared that there
are several scheduled activities to bring folks downtown and stated that the next big event would be the
Annual Winter Holiday Parade the night before the VT-Miami game and that he has received mixed
concerns. There was some discussion concerning this. Mr. Sherman asked to have this information
passed to the Assistant Town Manager. Ms. Kirk will do that.

Brian Montgomery shared that there was interest within the SGA to set up a hotline for students. Chief
Duncan stated a crime-stoppers idea is great and should allow for anonymous tips. Chief Brown
commented this would be helpful in keeping a pulse within the community. He encouraged them to
continue to expand the lines of community. It was agreed by the Committee to support this endeavor.


The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 pm. The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 29, at
7:00 pm in the First Floor Conference Room of the Municipal Building.

        Neighborhood Summary - Town
        Neighborhood Mixer - Blacksburg Federation member report
        Scott Hurst – Future Planning
        IFC/Pan – interface with NEP for the Greek Award

				
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