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

BSU, GWPD host town hall on public safety

Students and administrators reflect on how to remain safe.
Sarah Hochstein | Staff Photographer
Attendees discuss public safety at the Tuesday night meeting.

Updated: Sept. 27, 2023, at 6:47 p.m.

Members of the Black Student Union and GW Police Department hosted a town hall about public safety in the University Student Center on Tuesday night.

More than a dozen community members, including BSU leaders and GWPD officers, shared safety resources on campus and tips about how to remain safe in D.C., like traveling in groups. Audience members also shared their personal safety mechanisms and asked officers for additional protection advice.  

GWPD Chief James Tate said the department received good community feedback over the summer regarding the arming of GWPD officers this fall and began their first phase of arming the most senior members of the department — himself and Captain Gabe Mullinax — as a result of the input.  

Tate said students have voiced concerns on how officers respond to individuals experiencing mental health crises. He said if an individual is not actively hurting themselves, the department now places officers on standby when responding to mental health calls instead of entering the individual’s room to make the situation less distressing for the person in crisis.

“We let EMeRG make that sort of contact,” Tate said. “Let the medical professionals make that sort of contact, to greet them and talk to them and kinda figure out what’s going on. If we are needed, then EMeRG can ask us to show up and that’s what we’ll do.”

GWPD Community Outreach Officer Dominique Payne discussed the available safety resources for students, including the Rave Guardian app and R.A.D. — a self-defense training model course geared towards female-identifying students.

Baxter Goodley, senior associate vice president of Facilities, Planning, Construction and Management, talked about the new SafeRide app – which replaced the GW Rider app and allows students to view their ride history and call safe ride if they lose an item inside one of the vehicles – and said that some issues like unexplained cancellations were because of the old app.

BSU co-President Kelsey Baker said it’s important to stay vigilant and aware of your surroundings, especially in an unfamiliar place.  

“Even if you’re not in a group setting and you’re alone, it’s important that you have somebody that knows where you are,” Baker said. 

BSU Co-president Bailey Moore said people should refrain from displaying their anxiety when they find themselves in areas where they do not feel comfortable.

Audience members gave their own safety advice, including talking to friends from the area to learn more about different neighborhoods. One also asked officers what to do if they are being harassed for their phone number.

“If you give them that number, they’re harassing you, give it to them and then just politely walk away, block that number immediately,” Payne said. 

Payne said when put in those situations, students can politely tell the person they are not interested and “treat them like a person.”

Kimberley Giramiya-Manano, a freshman majoring in political science and business, said the town hall was personable and transparent. She said the in-person discussion with GWPD cleared up some of her concerns and misunderstandings about the decision to arm some GWPD officers, including which members of the force will be carrying firearms.

“Talking to them face to face really cleared up because I thought the entire unit was being armed, but if it’s just the senior officers I’m a little more fine with that and actually makes me feel a little safer on campus,” Giramiya-Manano said.

Fiona Bork contributed reporting.

This post has been updated to reflect the following:

Due to an editing error, a previous version of this post included a photo caption that incorrectly identified GWPD Chief James Tate in the image. The caption has since been updated. We regret this error.

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