The Georgetown University Police Department will not be patrolling New South Hall during weekend nights, despite an email sent out to New South residents Tuesday afternoon that stated that officers would be posted on weekend nights in the freshman residence hall.
“Since we are so fortunate, in the next weekend and those following, we will have GUPD officers within the building to make sure that all is well,” New South Community Director Jasmin Bush wrote in an email to New South residents. “They will specifically be around for the weekend and hours between 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. to ensure that the policies of the building are being followed given recent acts of vandalism (within New South) and theft (mainly in and around the community).”
GUPD Chief of Police Jay Gruber said that the email stemmed from confusion about GUPD’s community liaison program, which has existed since 2008. The program connects officers with students in each residence hall to develop a closer relationship between GUPD and the people it serves. Gruber said that community liaison officers at New South wanted to interact with more students and decided to host a meet-and-greet as a part of GUPD’s Personal Safety Week.
“It really came down to the fact that the campus liaison officers said they would give a little extra attention to New South, but we’re not going to do what the community director has here, be there for weekends and hours between 9 p,m. to 2 p.m., ensuring policies of the building are being followed. That’s not something that campus liaison officers wrote that they said they would do,” Gruber said. “So I’m not quite sure where this is coming from.”
Director of Residential Education Ed Gilhool said that this officer meet-and-greet came after a few minor acts of vandalisms in New South.
“Out of that, and the community policing model GUPD strives for, they had a conversation about the building and the fact that there had been some vandalism, and in partnership they decided this would be a good opportunity for the officers to spend some time in New South and be there to get to know the students, to introduce themselves and to just be there to be helpful and respond to concerns students may have about vandalism and other issues,” Gilhool said. “This is not an ongoing, sustained patrol of New South.”
According to Gruber, recent crime in New South has not been significant enough to warrant any sort of GUPD patrol.
“I’m trying to think what recent crimes have been in there,” Gruber said. “I don’t know of any. We have vandalisms here and there on campus or a burglary here and there, but I’m not aware of any sustained incidents of crime or any sustained incidents of student conduct that would warrant us spending an inordinate amount of time in New South.”
Gruber said that GUPD rarely patrols residence halls on a sustained basis due to lack of resources.
“It’s just an odd thing because although we will give special attention to certain areas that are experiencing problems or an elevated incidence of crime, but it’s not something that we would do on a sustained basis,” Gruber said. “We generally do not walk through residence hall hallways on a regular basis unless there’s a problem.”
According to Gilhool, community liaison officers will occasionally host meet-and-greets in residence halls including New South in the future to communicate with students.
“We’re not creating a patrol of New South, but really trying to bolster an opportunity for our staff, GUPD and students to make sure our students are safe and well in their building,” Gilhool said.
Bush declined to comment on the misleading email.