DPS to Adopt 'Police' Name
Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 02:03
Although a recent survey conducted by the Campus Life Working Group stated that the Department of Public Safety is now the Georgetown University Police Department, the name has not officially been changed, according to Chief of Police Jay Gruber.
“My interest is not to abruptly change the name of the department. … It takes a while to acclimate people to change,” said Gruber, who assumed his current post last July. “So many people are used to calling us the Department of Public Safety.”
But Gruber said that the references to DPS as “police” represent efforts to shape the department’s public image.
“We do university policing, so we want to focus the public’s attention to the fact that we are the university’s police department,” Gruber said. “I’m trying to focus attention on what our core responsibility is, which is policing the campus.”
Gruber, former assistant chief of police at the University of Maryland, said that the unofficial shift to the new name is partly an effort to distinguish Georgetown’s force from public safety departments at other universities, which also oversee such mandates as emergency management and environmental health and safety.
“We don’t do that here,” Gruber said. “We really just do university policing and all aspects of it from crime prevention to patrol work to working with students, staff and residence life halls.”
Even though Gruber says the department has not officially change its name, DPS is now being referred to as The Department of Public Safety/The Georgetown University Police Department in various forms of correspondence, like mass email notifications and public service announcements.
Ed Gilhool, associate director of the Office of Residential Life, said he did not know why the student life survey specifically mentioned that GUPD was previously known as DPS.
Some changes have been less subtle. In December, DPS purchased new squad cars that featured a “Police” logo as opposed to vehicles from the older fleet that say “Department of Public Safety.”
Despite the re-imaging campaign, Gruber indicated that the department’s core mission and responsibilities will not change.
“[The new name] doesn’t change how we do things, it doesn’t change why we do things, it doesn’t affect how we interact with the community,” Gruber said.