UVA holds virtual community forum on gun violence

Hundreds of community members, UVA students and parents pushed for answers on what’s been done to reverse the rising trends.
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 5:13 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - UVA President Jim Ryan and UVA Police Chief Tim Longo hosted a community forum regarding the increase in gun violence in the Charlottesville area. They stressed that county, city, university and state police are working together to address the issue.

Hundreds of community members, UVA students and parents pushed for answers on what’s being done to reverse the rising trends.

“Far too often in this business we say ‘putting a BandAid on a sucking chest wound.’ We treat symptoms but we don’t often look for the cause. Well, we are trying to pay more attention to look at the cause and try to understand better why these events have occurred in the city thus far this year,” Chief Longo said.

In the past few months, five homicides have occurred, including one on UVA’s Corner during St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

“To put that in context for you, in the almost 16 years I served as the chief of police in the city of Charlottesville from 2001 to 2016, I never had any more than that number in an entire year,” Longo said.

“I said repeatedly during the pandemic, and I’ll say it again now, nothing is more important than the safety of our community,” President Ryan said.

UVAPD and the University say they are working to create new ways to keep students safe. As part of this initiative, the ambassador program, a group of trained people who can walk students home or keep a watchful eye out, is expanding its reach.

Chief Longo says that ambassadors will now continue down the West Main Street Corridor through Downtown Charlottesville and on to the Downtown Mall. Ambassadors will also be present in the areas around Cherry Avenue.

UVA also announced a community safety working group that will include people from UVA, the city and the county.

“Their charge is to bring forward a set of holistic recommendations about what we might do beyond law enforcement to reduce gun violence,” Ryan said. “It’s a schools issue, it’s an after schools issue. It’s a summer issue. It’s a mental health issue. It’s a public health issue, and so we’re bringing together people who have experience across those categories to offer really concrete ideas about what we can do immediately.”

UVA encourages students to download the Guardian Rave app, which is free with a UVA email, and to sign up for UVA emergency and community alerts.

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