Changes to the university’s student guard and officer training programs are among several new initiatives aimed at addressing safety concerns on campus this year.
“Solving crime is important but what we want to do is reduce the number of cases,” David Morrell, vice president for university safety and security, said. “That’s what this program is all about.”
Morrell’s office is primarily responsible for overseeing planning and response efforts for emergency situations and addressing student safety concerns.
According to Morrell, officers have recently received specialized training in diversity awareness and handling sexual assault cases. They will continue to work closely with the etropolitan Police Department in patrolling the areas around the outer limits of the university, especially during the key 7 p.m. to 5 a.m. time period when crime often occurs. University officials refer to this time period as the “power shift.”
Following widespread criticism of student guard effectiveness last year, the program is also being extensively revamped, under the leadership of Adrienne Piazza (MSB ’04). Changes include an enhanced training regimen featuring thorough reviews of protocol and extensive follow up throughout the year to ensure the guards are performing their duties effectively.
Additionally, student guard posts will now be located at all main entrances to the McCarthy, Kennedy and Reynolds residence halls. Between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m. , access to all residence halls will continue to be granted only to residents and their guests.
The 34 existing on-campus call boxes will soon be replaced with new technologically-advanced systems and 23 additional emergency call boxes will be added throughout campus by Sept. 30, Morrell said. The university administration is not the only group getting involved in keeping Georgetown secure. The 20-member Student Safety Advisory Board has completed an extensive survey throughout west Georgetown to determine areas of the community that lack proper lighting. Student representatives plan on lobbying the District of Columbia government to improve the street lighting in deficient areas.
The Student Safety Advisory Board has also developed innovative ways to remind students to stay safe. Special whistles will be distributed during the first few days of school and magnets urging students to “Lock Your Doors!” will be given out as well. Members of the board plan on developing more innovative ways to reach out the community throughout the school year.
While the financial and governmental sectors of the Washington , D.C. area were recently declared to be at the high risk “code orange” level of the Homeland Security Advisory System, orrell emphasized that there have been no terrorist threats specifically targeting Georgetown . The university’s extensive security policies, he said, are aimed at making Georgetown an “unattractive target.”
If a serious event were to occur, though, the university has a series of protocols in place to keep students safe. On-campus whistles will signal students to find immediate shelter and the university is equipped to provide necessary provisions to the entire community for up to three days. The university’s improved emergency preparedness Web site has extensive information on Georgetown ‘s emergency policies.
Morrell said that safety is ultimately in the hands of students. Since the community has actively worked with public safety officials, overall crime statistics for this year are likely to be down from those of last year. Last year two burglars responsible for over 100 crimes on college campuses throughout the Washington , D.C. , area were arrested on the Georgetown campus after proactive students contacted authorities.
The university is launching initiatives to encourage students to program the DPS emergency phone number into their cellular telephones, lock their doors and report suspicious activity to authorities, but Morrell says these efforts may be ineffective if the community doesn’t continue to work proactively to stop crime.
“I think we have a safe campus,” Morrell said. “Contributing factors include DPS and the fact that students are safety conscious. The students contribute to the safe environment on campus although there are a few areas that need attention which we are addressing.”