The Metropolitan Police Department will cut the ribbon Thursday on the Foggy Bottom/GW Community Policing Center in a University-owned storefront at 2331 Virginia Avenue.
MPD officers will use the center to call in reports to department headquarters and for lunch and restroom breaks, but will not be stationed in the building. Volunteer staffers will operate the center.
The University paid for renovations to the building and will pay for utilities, said MPD Lt. Robert Atcheson, commander of Police Service Area 207, which includes Foggy Bottom.
“The main purpose of it will be to better connect the neighborhood, GW and MPD,” Atcheson said.
He said GW is one of the first universities to implement such a project, which will expedite the paperwork officers complete on cases.
“I think it will have an effect on crime,” Atcheson said. “The center will hopefully make the criminal element feel more uncomfortable.”
Residents said they are pleased with the opening of the new community policing station and several said they will feel a heightened sense of safety with the center nearby. They said they hope it will deter petty thieves who might victimize area residents.
Dorothy Miller, an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and vice president of the Columbia Plaza Tenants Association, said she believes the area has a high rate of crime.
“There has been an awful lot of crime on 25th Street,” Miller said. “I am delighted that I can now reach MPD faster than the security desk at Columbia Plaza.”
“It will definitely make the area safer,” said recent GW graduate Kim Stewart, a resident of a University-owned townhouse down the street from the new policing center.
But Miller was not convinced about the University’s motives in opening the new center.
“GW will get more out of it than the community. They always do,” she said.
Some student residents in the area near the new center said they were concerned about its possible effects on their social gatherings.
“I think it will put a damper on how rambunctious parties get,” said Erin Moore, a GW senior and Virginia Avenue resident. “I just hope when I’m sitting on the balcony having a beer, I won’t get in trouble.”
Miller said she is confident about the potential effects of the new center on the Foggy Bottom community.
“It is one of the few good things GW has done,” Miller said. “We used to be at the mercy of some of the irresponsible students.”
But Atcheson said MPD officers will not be targeting students.
“We rarely have problems with GW students,” he said. “They are 110 percent better than Georgetown students.”
Some area residents also were concerned about rumors that MPD would be using much of the street’s highly-sought parking spaces for its police cruisers.
“We probably will have a slot for a maximum of three police cars. Most of the people coming to the center wouldn’t be coming by car anyway,” Atcheson said.