The Georgetown University Police Department discussed several of its newest initiatives during its second roundtable Wednesday evening.
During a discussion facilitated by Georgetown University Student Association Deputy Chief of Staff Trevor Tezel (SFS ’15), Chief of Police Jay Gruber and Deputy Chief Joseph Smith discussed the SafeRides program, the Outdoor Student Living Pilot Program and the recent laptop ban for student guards and accompanying enforcement through security cameras. Only three non-media students were in attendance.
Students pressed Gruber on these changes to the student guard program.
“These student guards are an important line of defense for our residence halls,” Gruber said. “I need these student guards to be vigilant of what’s going on around them.”
In particular, students questioned the department’s new video-monitoring policy, which was announced in an email to student guards from Student Guard Program Assistant Manager Matthew Brands. According to Gruber, however, the policy had not been approved by the department and was only instituted by the program managers.
“I’m not afraid to say that a student guard was brought in, disciplined, sanctioned and reminded that this type of correspondence cannot go out unless it’s vetted by us,” Gruber said. “We are not using the cameras to monitor the day-to-day activities of student guards.”
In reference to additional security measures, Gruber also discussed a possible “If I Were a Thief” program, in which resident assistants enter unlocked rooms and leave notes about what could have possibly have been stolen if they were thieves.
The roundtable also focused on common points of student interest in regard to DPS: alcohol policy and the role of DPS officers on campus.
Gruber spoke in detail about the Outdoor Student Living Pilot Program, which launched in September and allows students of legal age to consume alcoholic beverages outside in certain areas of Village A and Henle Village.
“We want the campus to be a place where people want to come to socialize,” Gruber said.
Smith and Gruber said that the success of this program has made GUPD more open to testing the program in other student residences on and off campus.
“When it goes to the spring semester, we’ll evaluate it,” Gruber said. “If it was as good as the fall semester, I don’t know why we wouldn’t implement it full-time as policy and hope to expand it to Alumni Square and LXR.”
Gruber and Smith also responded to questions about the GUPD’s practice of shutting down parties. Smith stressed that GUPD does not seek out parties and only responds to direct complaints.
“Contrary to urban myth, we really don’t want to be doing party patrol,” Smith said. “We want you to be able to socialize and have a good time.”
Gruber also addressed the creation of a SafeRides steering committee, which will be composed of an officer and six students. According to Nick Walker (SFS ’16), a member of the Student Safety Advisory Board, possible ideas include redefining SafeRides boundaries and reexamining high-demand routes.
“We will look into extending or decreasing boundaries by looking at all of the phone calls made to SafeRides and see what the most common routes are,” Walker said. “A lot of students request rides from Prospect to Burleith. We could have a shuttle run that route regularly on weekday nights because the neighborhood shuttles only run on weekends.”
Another focus for the committee is the SafeRides driver program. Currently, a combination of officers and students drive the vans, but the committee will decide whether to transition into a fully student-run program or to lease to an outside company. This would free officers to oversee other campus safety issues.
“I’m interested in having those security officers at two o’clock in the morning to be at 37th and Prospect Street just to monitor the activities and see what’s going on,” Gruber said. “I would rather have officers at the Canal Road where they monitor vehicles coming into campus. If I can get the students to drive the vans, I can re-task the officers.”
Gruber also discussed the upcoming SafeRides app, which will be available for testing in the spring. The app functions similarly to popular taxi-hailing service Uber and will determine a student’s location via GPS and notify students of wait time. The app would also send an additional notification once the car arrives.
“It’s a service important and centric to students, and we need to do it well,” Gruber said. “There are obviously things that we are not doing well – the way we answer the phones, the estimated time of arrival [and] the demeanor of some of the van drivers.”
Tezel said that the next roundtable would probably occur in late February.

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