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Introducing Penelope, the NOVA Police Cat

Many police departments employ K-9s for patrol, bomb detection, and to identify controlled substances.

At Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) Police, a different approach has been pursued to keep its campuses safe and secure. It adopted a police cat named Penelope! She conducts outreach and improves the department’s “brand” by demonstrating NOVA Police's sense of humor and approachability.

In fact, Penelope has become one of the department’s best known officers. She writes one or two articles in every monthly Public Safety Newsletter and has been responsible for tripling the newsletter’s readership. She receives hundreds of requests for personal meetings, especially from students. Sadly for her many fans, Penelope is always on patrol; after all, someone has to rescue students (and faculty) stuck in trees, so she is seldom available for meetings. However, NOVA's police cat makes numerous videos which help the beloved members of the NOVA campus community stay safe. Click here to watch a video with Penelope! 

The whole concept of a police cat is, perhaps, a little off the beaten trail, and it has given "paws" to some members of the NOVA Police Department. However, campus members love her and this affection has done much to enhance the reputation of NOVA Police as caring, fun-loving, approachable, and (like Penelope) almost human. In fact, her popularity has become so great she started an Instagram account (@penelopenovapolicecat) and it has more than 1,400 followers from 70+ countries! Perhaps you will follow Penelope, and consider a police cat for your campus community, too.


OVW Campus Program Training

IACLEA in partnership with the East Central University’s Safety Training and Technical Assistance for Administrators, Boards, and Law Enforcement (STTAABLE) presents the Office on Violence Against Women’s Campus Program Training. These workshops are currently open and are free for all.