Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

GU Enhances Safety Measures

Amidst a number of summer safety enhancements, including arming Department of Public Safety officers with long-awaited protective equipment, new leadership arrived at the department on June 1 in the form of DPS Director Jeffrey Van Slyke.

The several changes to campus safety that took place over the summer represent a shift toward a more community-based approach to security, said Van Slyke, who replace former DPS Director Darryl Harrison when Harrison retired in May.

After over a year of discussions about new equipment, this fall, DPS officers will begin carrying new protective equipment – batons and pepper spray. When DPS renewed its contract with the university in early 2007, the university agreed to also open talks about the possibility of new equipment for officers, but last November, officers were still awaiting the university’s decision.

The decision to supply officers with the new equipment does not derive from a specific incident, but from cumulative events and requests from DPS officers.

“This has come through years of evolution,” said Vice President for University Safety Rocco DelMonaco.

In order to carry the new equipment, officers had to undergo extensive training to learn how to properly care, use and store the equipment. “It’s not only how to use it, but when to use it,” DelMonaco said.

Van Slyke said that visibility, accessibility and engagement are three of his major goals for the department.

“It’s an ongoing process to continue and promote a safe campus,” he added. “Hopefully I bring to the table experience and ideas.”

Aside from new officer equipment, since Van Slyke’s appointment, several safety improvements have taken place within the department and around campus.

One such change will be the opening of a DPS hub in the LXR lobby behind the Securitas desk, as well as a DPS kiosk located in the LXR courtyard. The safety department has placed special emphasis on safety in the LXR complex after an armed sexual assault was reported in an LXR common room at the end of last semester.

“It’s another opportunity so we can be more visible and accessible,” Van Slyke said.

Over the summer, alarm systems were fixed on all doors in the LXR complex.

“If you go out the doors, the alarm will go off. What we’re hoping is it’s so loud that people will close the door,” DelMonaco said.

All 13 stairwell doors in Henle Village have also been repaired so that the deadbolt will only be released once a student has swiped to enter, he said. Several burglaries and thefts were also reported in Henle last year, two due to broken doors.

“We ask folks living or visiting the building to please not prop the door,” DelMonaco said, stressing the need for student cooperation with campus security.

The Georgetown campus will also notice DPS officers patrolling the campus by bicycle this semester instead of the usual foot and car patrols. The purpose of this is to increase officers’ visibility on campus and to lower response times.

“We really are a foot-beat centric location,” DelMonaco said. “It’s really not conducive to patrol in the car.” He added that officers will be able to maneuver more easily around campus on a bike as opposed to in a car.

Over the summer, five officers were sent to bike schools to prepare for the semester. “We’re trying to be more efficient and effective with our numbers,” DelMonaco said.

Van Slyke said he wants to see greater cooperation between DPS officers and students.

“We want to minimize the `us against them’ mentality,” he said.

One way of accomplishing this goal is through his Adopt-a-Cop program, which will assign officers to specific residence halls.

“I want the officers to be in the residence halls and get to know the people we’re serving,” Van Slyke said.

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