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

DPS Alert, Metro Police Report Conflict

crimeatglanceThe Public Safety Alert sent out after an armed burglary two weeks ago differed significantly from the Metropolitan Police Department report that was publicly available earlier in the day.

Three Georgetown students were victims of an armed burglary at their home on the 3500 block of S Street at 12:13 a.m. on Saturday, May 6. Three suspects entered the house, one carrying a gun. They tied up the residents and stole two laptops and three cell phones.

A PSA was emailed to the campus community more than 12 hours after the incident occurred, after the story had been discussed on Twitter and reported by THE HOYA.

DPS Associate Director Joseph Smith could not speak directly to why DPS’s PSA was not sent until the afternoon after the incident, although he did say that alerts must be reviewed by several people before they can be sent out.

“There’s no set timeline on sending an alert. There’s a number of factors involved in gathering that information,” he said. “First it’s disseminated to university leadership, and they’re given a chance to review the PSA. So it goes through the review process and then it’s published. There’s a variety of variables involved.”

There were several differences between MPD’s account, which was available earlier that morning, and the alert sent out that day.

According to MPD, the burglary started at 12:13 a.m. and no non-Georgetown students were listed as complainants. DPS reported that the burglary occurred at 1 a.m. and added that the suspects were looking for a resident who was not a Georgetown student and was not in the house at the time. According to MPD, two laptops and three cell phones were taken, but DPS reported that three laptops and other electronic devices were taken.

The descriptions of the suspects in the case also differed. MPD described three suspects, all black males. One was wearing black pants and a black coat while brandishing a gun, one was

wearing a gray coat and gray pants and the other was wearing a black jacket and black pants. DPS only provided descriptions for two of the suspects, reporting that both were black males. The suspect with the gun was described as wearing a black sweatshirt and blue jeans, while the other suspect was described as short and wearing blue jeans.

According to Smith, the discrepancies may have occurred because of confusion at the crime scene.

“A lot of times when you first get on the scene of a crime you are gathering information, and it may not be complete or accurate until everybody involved has been thoroughly talked to. I think there was inaccurate information at first. The MPD information came out after the information we received,” he said.

Smith and university administrators said that MPD was the most reliable source of information regarding crime in the neighborhood, since MPD leads all criminal investigations.

“PSAs are based on the best information available at the time. MPD is leading this investigation, and DPS is working cooperatively with them,” Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh wrote in an email. “Any questions about the specifics of these cases should be directed to MPD.”

This high-profile burglary came at the end of a school year marked by a dramatic increase in crime throughout the Georgetown area. The burglary was the fourth such incident in the West Georgetown and Burleith sections of 35th Street. There have been 12 PSAs regarding burglaries and robberies in the neighborhood since Jan. 1 — three on campus, one in Burleith and eight in West Georgetown.

The MPD Public Service Area 206, which includes the Georgetown campus, West Georgetown and Burleith, has seen a 65 percent increase in burglaries and a 10 percent increase in thefts since Sept. 1, 2010, in comparison with the same period from Sept. 1, 2009, to May 16, 2010. Additionally, violent crime in the area has surged 12 percent.

“There has definitely been an increase,” said Smith. “That has been noticed and it is something of concern.”

Smith said that he was not at liberty to discuss possible connections between these incidents because they are ongoing criminal investigations.

“I can say that both MPD and DPS are paying extra attention to the 35th Street area, and we are working with the victims to address their safety concerns,” he wrote in an email.

“Criminals are being apprehended. No one’s turning a blind eye to safety. That is our primary focus,” he added.

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