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

GWPD to arm top two officers

Two executive supervisory officers will carry firearms “during the busiest part of the week.”
Sage Russell – Assistant Photo Editor
The GWPD offices on 22nd Street.

The GW Police Department will arm its top two officers, the first officials to receive handguns as part of the department’s new public safety policy.

Officials will arm GWPD Executive Supervisory Officers Chief James Tate and Captain Gabe Mullinax with 9 mm handguns in the “coming weeks,” according to a statement released Monday. The decision is the first stage of GWPD’s five-point implementation plan for the upcoming semester after the Board of Trustees announced in April its divisive plan to arm roughly 20 GWPD supervising officers to better respond to campus emergencies.

Tate and Mullinax will carry firearms “during the busiest part of the week,” according to the statement. 

If their arming is “successful,” GWPD will arm additional supervising officers as they meet training requirements and as the department continues to incorporate community feedback, the announcement states. The announcement did not specify how the department will measure success in the first phase of their plan.

“It’s 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,” Tate said in the release.

The Board approved the policy in response to heightened gun violence in the United States, including shootings on college campuses. Students, faculty and community members protested the decision last spring, saying arming officers could risk police violence against students on campus and disproportionately threaten the safety of students of color.

The announcement states that armed officers must complete implicit bias training every semester, monthly de-escalation training and virtual reality simulator training, and mental health response training three times per year.

Officers must also complete a firearms certification three times per year, according to the statement. D.C. law requires sworn Metropolitan Police Department officers to complete at least 32 hours of training annually on topics like community policing, implicit bias, de-escalation and mental and behavioral health awareness. 

Armed supervisory officers must also complete a “background investigation” and psychological evaluation before receiving a firearm, according to the statement. The announcement states that armed officers who are newly employed at the University will also undergo a “pre-arming period” to grow familiar with GW’s campus and community before receiving a handgun.

GWPD revised its use of force policy in June to prohibit the use of chokeholds and dictate the “specific circumstances” when officers are authorized to use force, like armed intruders, robberies and assaults. The revised use of force policy states that officers may use deadly force if they reasonably believe it is “immediately necessary” to protect the officer or other people and if all other force options are “exhausted.”

Officials will select a temporary independent review committee before arming officers, according to the statement. The process of creating a nomination and application process for members of a permanent independent review committee — consisting of students, faculty and staff — is “underway,” the announcement states.

The committee will “review all instances of use of force with a firearm,” according to the statement.

University President Ellen Granberg, who began her term July 1, said safety is the University’s “foremost priority.” She said the University will work to implement feedback the community provided through meetings between student groups and GWPD and through a feedback form which was open through June 23 on GWPD’s website

“I want everyone not only to be safe but also to feel safe on our campuses,” Granberg said.

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About the Contributors
Grace Chinowsky, Senior News Editor
Grace Chinowsky is a junior majoring in journalism and mass communication from Seattle, Washington. She leads the News section as The Hatchet's 2023-2024 senior news editor, and previously served as the assistant news editor for the Metro beat.
Erika Filter, News Editor
Erika Filter is a senior majoring in international affairs from Carson City, Nevada. She leads the Metro beat as one of The Hatchet's 2023-2024 news editors and previously served as the assistant news editor for the Student Government beat.
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