Highlanders in the News: Week of March 13

Every week, our Highlanders are using their education to do extraordinary things. Here, we’ll highlight some notable mentions from local, regional, national and international news media. Whether our students, alumni, faculty and staff are featured as subject matter experts in high-profile stories or simply helping make the world a better place, we’ll feature their stories.

Justin Askins

Finding one’s Walden

Sometimes the act of simply achieving a dream, even for a limited time, can bear as much personal significance as holding onto it forever.

That’s a theme within a March 12 Roanoke Times commentary (“Life’s narrative pays homage to Thoreau”) by Justin Askins, Ph.D., Radford University professor emeritus of English.

In the piece, Askins writes of his early admiration for Henry David Thoreau, the author of “Walden,” who, for a time, traded civilization for nature. Thoreau lived and wrote alongside Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, and turned that experience into both a classic work of literature and an oft-emulated lifestyle.

Inspired by that stripped-down example, a younger Askins, still in his 30s, set out to find a Walden of his own, and did – in Montgomery County’s Reese Hollow, first in a teepee, then in a small cabin and finally in a home.

The essay tracks how he managed those variations and some of the elements he experienced living closer to nature, as well as the gifts he managed to give back along the way. It also touches on why, a few years ago, he had to let go of that existence altogether and what he took from that turn of events.

This month’s piece is far from the first time Askins has published essays in the newspaper. Over the past few years, he has offered commentaries on the ExoMars mission and humankind’s place in the universe; the intrinsic value of zoos; and pangs of nostalgia during the Covid-19 pandemic, among other topics.

Logan Klepal (Vinton First Aid Crew)

Emergency response

A critical care student at Radford University-Carilion who also volunteers with the Vinton First Aid Crew (VFAC) was recently acknowledged by the town for his efforts.

Logan Klepal was saluted in a March 9 story in the Vinton (Virginia) Messenger as part of the newspaper’s recent efforts to highlight members of the crew as a gesture of gratitude.

Klepal, who is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has been a VFAC paramedic for three years now, according to the story, and in December, was installed as a second lieutenant with the crew and also named group Member of the Year for 2022.

“Many of our citizens have amazing stories about the wonderful service provided to them by the devoted members of the crew,” Vinton Mayor Brad Grose told the newspaper.

For his part, Klepal singled out two particularly choice benefits of volunteering to help others through the VFAC.

The first, he said, was high activity experience.

And the second?

“Sometimes there are free sandwiches,” Klepal noted.

Professor of Criminal Justice Rachel Santos, Ph.D., (right) and Roberto Santos, Ph.D., associate professor of Criminal Justice (left). Also pictured: College of Humanities and Behavior Science Dean Matthew J. Smith (background).

“Domestic” partners

The Danville (Virginia) Police Department is now following a plan – developed by Radford University – that, statistics show, reduces the need for domestic incident calls.

A March 3 story by WSET news cited the recently implemented “Proactive Police Response to Domestic-Related Repeat Calls for Service” by professors of criminal justice Rachel Santos and Roberto Santos, both Ph.D. The Santoses are co-directors of Radford’s Center for Police Practice, Policy and Research (CP3R), within the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences, and their report was made available to the public in January.

Within the strategy, Danville police revisit areas that show high volumes of calls for domestic service – including issues that range from arguments to violence – and follow up with possible preventative solutions.

“This guide provides a process for proactive police response to the short-term problem of repeat calls for service at residences, called domestic-related repeat incidents, or DRRI,” the project notes say.

“Importantly, the process does not replace what police and the criminal justice system already do for individual domestic violence crimes and victims, but provides a complementary strategy that fills a gap by systematically addressing repeat noncriminal incidents occurring at residences with the aim of forestalling more serious violence and keeping individuals, families, and the community safer.”

“They appreciated us just coming by, talking with them,” Danville Police Capt. E.K. Thompson told WSET. “The calls for service for those houses dropped dramatically.”

WSET said information contained in the report showed rates of repeat domestic incidents fell from nearly 100 to just 16 within two months of the plan’s implementation.

The Danville Police Department tweeted a direct link to the plan on March 1.

The project, a partnership between the Danville police and the CP3R, is paid for by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

Radford’s CP3R is a hub for faculty to network and collaborate with other researchers, experts, law enforcement personnel, investigators and administrators.

Among other activities, the Santoses frequently partner with civic agencies to pursue grant-funded projects that evaluate successful police policies and practices.

Mar 17, 2023
Neil Harvey