Put ‘Alert’ in HOYAlert

The on-campus armed robbery on May 6 and the subsequent arrest on May 7 shocked the Georgetown community, both with the crime itself and the apprehension of one of the suspects through the actions of the Georgetown University Police Department.

While the resolution reflects well on the department, this case exposed several serious safety issues facing the Georgetown community.

The largest of these was the lack of a HOYAlert notification to alert the campus of the ongoing situation. The crime, along with a description of the suspect, should have been released sooner than three hours after the incident occurred.

GUPD cited witness statements and the on-scene investigation by GUPD and the Metropolitan Police Department as reasons to believe that the suspects had left campus. And yet, at least one of them returned the very next day, wearing the very same clothes and armed with the very same weapon.

Had the notification gone out sooner, GUPD or the MPD may have tracked the suspects down sooner, instead of acting only after receiving a witness tip. The handling of the campus-wide notification was also disturbing in its format, as it had nearly the same layout as a generic laptop theft in an unlocked dorm room.
The robbery also demonstrated quite clearly that Georgetown students take their safety and security for granted. Washington, D.C., is a large, interconnected city, and just because students live west of Rock Creek Park does not mean the community is magically protected from the inherent risks of living in a big city.
The infrequency of such crimes on campus gives rise to concerns that GUPD is inadequately prepared to respond to serious crimes.

While Georgetown students should commend the officers for properly closing the case with the arrest of the suspect, students should also learn from this experience to properly stay alert. Similarly, GUPD should work to quicken its campus-wide notification system to keep Georgetown’s community as informed as possible.

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