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The GW Hatchet

AN INDEPENDENT STUDENT NEWSPAPER SERVING THE GW COMMUNITY SINCE 1904

The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Crime log: Subject barred after shoplifting at bookstore
By Max Porter, Contributing News Editor • February 26, 2024

Op-ed: GWPD Chief Tate addresses concerns about arming GWPD

James Tate is the chief of police for the GW Police Department.

I have had the opportunity to hear and learn from many members of our community over the past few weeks in the wake of the University’s announcement regarding reimagining public safety. These conversations have been productive, and they are helping to shape our implementation plans as we prepare to arm GWPD’s supervisory officers.

I fully appreciate that members of our community have varied reactions to this announcement based on their own lived experiences and identities. And, to be clear, gaining a thorough understanding of our students’ concerns — and specific feedback and suggestions — is tremendously valuable and essential as we develop an implementation plan for arming GWPD’s supervisory officers. It’s also critical that we continue our ongoing engagement with our students, faculty, staff and neighbors so that we account for the varying perspectives of our diverse stakeholders moving forward.

Much of the feedback we’ve received from students underscores the need for this ongoing engagement and communication. In the past few weeks, I have received many questions from our community about circumstances that would involve an armed officer’s response, whether armed officers would be in residence halls and training requirements for such officers.

These are excellent questions reflecting important concerns — some are related to the training and preparedness of our supervisory officers, and others are centered around the impact of this change on the daily life and culture of our Foggy Bottom and Mount Vernon campuses. Let me address these two areas.

We will require all of GWPD’s armed officers to undergo extensive training requirements. Prior to arming, officers will be required to successfully complete an accredited police academy and an additional 56-hour firearms course that includes training regarding less lethal and nonlethal force and police accountability. These standards are the same as those for other police officers in our area.

We also will require supervisors to regularly demonstrate proficiency with their firearm and attend in-service training on defensive tactics, use-of-force policies, de-escalation skills and — perhaps most critically to many of our community members — implicit bias. We have recruited our supervisory officers from other law enforcement agencies, and they have distinguished and honorable careers. Among the group are former detectives, police academy instructors, school resource officers and individuals with specialized experience, like from the FBI academy and through many aspects of law enforcement training.

We’ve also modified our response to mental health calls and will continuously evaluate how we can improve moving forward. All officers, including supervisors, wear body-worn cameras, which contribute to building trust and accountability. We will consider feedback from our community about any crucial components of our trainings and share more information in our implementation plans.

We are developing our protocols regarding armed officer response in various situations, including when they may need to respond to a residence hall. We will share more about these protocols in our implementation plans.

Of course, I recognize that many of you have perspectives on how we best support the safety of our community, and I acknowledge that these perspectives are vital and based on your experiences and identities. My dual identities as a member of law enforcement and a man of color impact the way I view this matter and its importance. I also understand that our diverse community members’ many identities and lived experiences impact your perspectives on policing, arming officers and its implications. I will continue to acknowledge and work to understand these perspectives and address any concerns.

It is my privilege to serve as chief of GWPD. Since joining GW, I have had the pleasure of meeting with many members of our community, especially our students. Our officers have also worked to increase accountability, offer transparency and earn trust among our stakeholders. The core of this work at GW has been building engagement with our community. This engagement is essential to our work and will continue.

We are sharing information with the community at go.gwu.edu/publicsafety. I look forward to finding more ways to engage with our community members — I assure you, my door is always open.

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