Most Georgetown students have seen him around campus. With a stocky body, trimmed beard and a well-pressed white sergeant’s uniform, Sgt. Earnest Parker stands out in a crowd.

An ordained pastor who cares for four foster children, Parker embodies the image of a well-rounded, civically-involved Department of Public Safety officer.

As a Vietnam veteran with over 20 years experience in the etropolitan Police Department, he came to Georgetown with a wealth of skill and knowledge and a commitment to fight crime on campus while protecting members of the Georgetown community.

On a recent series of DPS ride-alongs, Parker demonstrated how he and other DPS officers put experience into action to further safety on campus.

Last Wednesday evening, Parker stepped into his police cruiser as steady rain fell.

“Generally the weather dictates what’s going to happen,” he said. “Wednesdays are usually not too exciting anyway but on rainy nights the bad guys tend to stay in.”

With the recent high profile crimes near LXR residence hall, DPS has put a special emphasis on its patrols in the area, Parker said.

He drove the cruiser around the area again and again and squinted into dark corners, keeping an eye out for prowlers or students who needed help.

Since DPS tends to receive fewer calls for service on weekdays, there is more time to take a proactive approach to crime prevention, Parker said. Theft is the most common crime on campus so the sergeant sometimes walks near the Village A apartments on Prospect Street banging doors to see which ones are unlocked.

“These are usually crimes of opportunity but I always hope nothing happens. If we do not get a call all night, it is great,” he said.

DPS does not only concentrate on preventing crimes against students. Officers also deal with offenses students commit themselves. They are the first responders when students are caught drinking underage or when a “suspicious smell” – marijuana, usually – permeates through a residence hall. The only call for service received in a three-hour time period Wednesday was for a cannabis-like odor in New South, but no suspects or substances could be located.

“A lot of our time, especially on weekends, is spent dealing with these drinkers or pot smokers,” he said. “I have a thing with kids drinking underage. Come on, at least be responsible if you smoke or drink.”

This issue was exemplified Friday night when eight freshmen were caught drinking on the roof of Darnall Hall. DPS officers on the scene confiscated 35 cans of beer and a large bottle of hard liquor.

As the students sat solemnly in a back room of the DPS station, Officer Samuel Pulley scolded them.

“I’m a father myself and I do not want to see anyone hurt,” he said. “You need to think more about personal safety especially since Georgetown is under so many eyes right now. We can’t afford to let someone get seriously injured or die.”

The students were charged with mischievous conduct and released.

According to DPS officers, modern technology is making life more difficult than ever for impish students and common criminals alike. Communications officer Donald Bates said officers utilize more than 100 cameras around campus buildings and Prospect Street hotspots.

Everything is recorded and officers can rewind tapes if they suspect criminal activity has occurred. After reports of the drinking students came in, they were caught on tape cavorting on top of Darnall.

“If you do something criminal, it’s likely we’ll have it caught on camera,” Bates said. “The most important parts of campus and areas right off campus are being monitored by these things.”

Parker returned to his car Friday for another night of patrols. According to Parker, the majority of calls for service usually come during weekends. This Friday, however, turned out to be unusually slow. From 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Parker only responded to one pulled fire alarm.

As he drove, he spoke about his frustration with students loitering in the street.

“I just do not understand why they can’t use sidewalks,” he said as he waved students off the road. “One of these days someone is going to be run over.”

Parker drove around LXR once more. On weekends, propped doors are also a major problem, he said. They allow potential thieves to easily access students’ living space. On this night Parker found two doors being held open by plastic cups. He stepped out of his cruiser and kicked the cups aside.

As he continued patrolling, he stopped outside the front entrance of LXR and stared intently toward the student guard inside. A woman passed by with a phone to her ear and the student guard barely looked up. Parker stepped out of his car and headed inside.

“Student guards play a vital role here,” he said. “They are the first line of defense keeping bad people out of these buildings. They have to do their jobs and this kid isn’t.”

As Parker entered the building, the student guard looked up nervously but did not say a word. Parker warned him to start checking IDs more effectively then headed back to the cruiser to continue his patrols.

Parker drove off to inspect the rest of campus. He drove past the medical center, through Burleith, and down to M Street. Along the way, he waved students out of the road and admonished a woman who had parked her car in the middle of the street. When she told Parker she would move it as soon as he drove away, he responded with a gruff “move it now.”

As she moved it, her passenger in the back seat spat a piece of gum toward the cruiser and Parker just laughed.

The quiet night ended with a pulled fire alarm in an Alumni Square stairwell.

The alarm had been triggered by three students who decided to pull it after being thrown out of a party.

“When we catch the people who did this they’ll probably be charged with a crime,” Parker said. “The District of Columbia takes this very seriously, especially with the recent fire death near Georgetown.”

As he returned to the DPS station below the Village C steps, Parker grinned. It had been a slow night, just the way he likes it.

“I’ve had more than enough action dealing with crime in MPD,” he said. “When there are less weekend on-campus calls, that means less work for me and less chance that someone will get hurt. Let’s celebrate.”

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