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

University Supports Patrol Extension

The university and a local citizens’ group decided in a meeting on March 31 that they will most likely extend a plan for off-duty police officers to patrol local streets on weekend nights despite seeing limited success since launching the program on a trial basis in January.

Two Metropolitan Police Department officers will almost certainly continue patrolling the residential areas between Georgetown University and Rock Creek Park between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays at least until the end of 2007, said Luca Pivato, co-chair of the public safety committee for the Citizens Association of Georgetown. The plan has been in place since January after CAG and the university, which co-sponsor the initiative, approved funding for a 13-week trial period.

Pivato said he expects the extension to be formally approved at a public safety meeting at the beginning of next month.

Pivato said that crime has risen during the times the officers are on patrol compared to last year. In January, the number of criminal offenses reported to MPD during the times of the increased patrols rose to 21 from 11 in 2006. While 12 criminal offenses were reported during those times in February 2006, 18 were reported in the same period this year.

Pivato said, however, that he has noticed signs of success.

“During reimbursement detail days and hours in 2006, most of the crimes happened in the residential area, while in 2007, there were very few crimes in residential areas,” he said. “Protecting the residential areas was always our goal.”

Under the program, one MPD officer patrols the residential area west of Wisconsin Avenue to the Georgetown campus and the other patrols the area east of Wisconsin to Rock Creek Park. The university and CAG extended the detail to include the Cloisters apartment complex on Reservoir Road at the beginning of March.

MPD Second District Commander Andrew Solberg said that crime statistics may not accurately reflect the program’s effect due to an unusual string of car break-ins in the area surrounding Georgetown that tripled the crime rate from mid-November to early February.

“I don’t know if it means we’re not having an impact,” Solberg said. “I don’t think so. With more officers and more visibility, I believe there is some deterrent effect.”

Pivato added that the officers made three arrests in January and February, including a burglary suspect and a domestic-violence perpetrator, and more than 50 “citizen contacts,” in which they offered assistance to a citizen on the street who seemed to need help.

“The goal of patrolling is to enhance visibility,” he said.

The program will cost both sponsors $30,000 each a year to maintain.

“We believe that this partnership with our neighbors in the Citizens Association of Georgetown has benefited the university and the community,” Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jeanne Lord said. “All indications are that we will renew this valuable partnership.”

CAG President Denise Cunningham said CAG is “very pleased” with the program and has already raised more than half the funds it needs to pay for its split of the costs.

Brandon Shamel (COL ’09), however, who lives in Alumni Square, said that he has not felt the presence of the added patrols.

“I haven’t seen any personal benefit when I am walking down Prospect,” Shamel said. “Costing as much as the program does, with the crime rate still going up, the university needs to make sure that students are actually benefiting.”

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