Katherine Perez joined Georgetown University on April 17 as the new chief of the Georgetown University Police Department (GUPD).
Perez, GUPD’s first female chief, will lead the university’s on-campus law enforcement organization, which maintains security on Georgetown’s main campus as well as its graduate, law and medical schools.
“The more I learned about the University, the more intrigued I became,” Perez wrote to The Hoya. “I took several trips to the school to look around and observe, then I applied.”
Perez has worked in law enforcement for over 40 years in a broad range of positions. During 20 years in the Hartford, Conn. Police Department, she rose to the rank of captain before becoming the chief of the District Heights Police Department and the first chief of police of the Bowie Police Department in Maryland.
The Georgetown University Student Association (GUSA) and the Georgetown Graduate Student Government (GradGov) were both involved in Perez’s selection process, organizing student interviews and giving their feedback on the applicants for chief, according to GUSA President Camber Vincent (SFS ’24).
“The student interviews for the candidates were an informal step of the process for members of GUSA, and some invited to GradGov, to meet the candidates and ask specific questions of the candidates for a feedback and recommendation form,” Vincent wrote to the Hoya.
Vincent said GUSA based its questions on the qualities it sought for the new leader of GUPD, such as compassion and resourcefulness, and their applicability to real world situations.
“We were looking for empathy and a chief who could take GUPD in a new direction off the course they were currently following,” Vincent wrote. “We asked questions to hear about how they would establish programs on or deal with bias, sexual assault, off campus safety, intruders, and other issue areas.”
Most recently, Perez was the assistant chief of police for the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors at their Washington, D.C. headquarters. The Board of Governors manages the Federal Reserve System banks and financial policies.
At Georgetown, Perez will replace Jay Gruber, who had served concurrently as associate vice president for Public Safety and chief of police since July 2012. Gruber now serves only as associate vice president for Public Safety and chief public safety officer; as GUPD chief, Perez will work under him.
Perez’s responsibilities as chief incorporates a wide range of safety precautions and programs to strengthen the security of Georgetown and its students, according to a university spokesperson.
In the past, students of color have expressed concern over GUPD, with a disproportionate number of Black students saying they have been stopped by GUPD officers in comparison to white students, according to the university’s 2021 campus climate survey. Students have also reported hyper policing on campus, with students of color saying they have experienced excessive use of force and unnecessary surveillance.
Vincent said that he recommended that the university choose Perez as their final candidate
because she demonstrated the qualities and the experience that he thought was necessary for the job.
“She clearly brought a new perspective to the table from her personal background and her professional background,” Vincent wrote. “I am excited that we will have a new face in GUPD and can’t wait to see Chief Perez get started.”
Perez said she aims to develop stronger partnerships across campus through initiatives such as the Student Safety Advisory Board (SSAB), which works with GUPD to ensure officers adhere to standards of justice and equality while protecting students’ safety, to make the department’s work more effective and more inclusive.
“My years in law enforcement allowed me to have an incredible cadre of partners at all levels of public safety, and it is through partnerships that law enforcement can truly be effective in the goal of keeping a community safe, informed and engaged,” Perez said in a university press release.
Perez said she plans to approach her new position with an attitude of listening and learning.
“I want to build upon the great work that has been done thus far and continue to be inclusive, transparent and present in the quest to keep the Georgetown community safe and secure,” Perez wrote. “I am looking forward to this opportunity and getting to know the Georgetown community.”
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