First they heard the rumble. Then they felt the vibrations. As the sound ripped through the darkness, a gust of wind made the hair on their bodies stand on end. They pressed against the concrete wall to maintain balance.
The Metro train sped past, just inches in front of their noses.
3It was like a rush,2 said Sean D1Augostine, one of 16 college police officers who toured the tunnels under the Farragut North Metro station last Friday as part of a rail safety course.
Officers donned fluorescent orange police vests with yellow stripes. They followed instructions intently, despite their soot-covered palms and dirt-stained jeans.
The four-hour rail safety course is part of the Campus Public Safety Institute, a mandatory eight-week training program for first-year campus police officers.
This semester, officers from nine local universities are participating in the training hosted by GW. American, Georgetown, Howard and Catholic universities have hosted the training on a rotating basis with GW since the early 1990s, UPD Director Dolores Stafford said.
The institute offers extensive training in the laws of arrest, search and seizure; the D.C. code; alcohol enforcement; effective interviewing skills and report writing; and community policing.
GW has seven officers in the institute this fall, and pays $550 in tuition for each officer. The officers graduate Nov. 18.
3The way I look at it, in college you get the basic textbook definition of law enforcement,2 D1Augostine said. 3(With this training), you1re basically gradually getting into all the aspects.2
Friday1s training was important because the officers work on campuses near Metro stations, said William Taylor, interim coordinator of GW1s crime prevention and training, and the institute1s training coordinator.
Taylor helped train officers at the Metropolitan Police Department for almost eight years before retiring in 1995.
3You have to be cognizant of the fact that even though you work in a college environment, there1s always something that can happen,2 Taylor said. 3As a campus police officer, there may be occasions where they1re in fleeing pursuit of a (criminal). So they should be aware of the problems that could arise when they chase them (into the Metro station) because once you leave the platform, you1re in a different world.2
Officers learned about the tunnel patterns of Metro stations and how to maneuver underground.
3Hands-on training – that1s what it1s all about,2 said Metro Transit Police1s Sgt. Ron Bodmer, a training leader.
Instructors pointed out safe places to stand and walk underground, and identified vent shafts in which suspects might hide. Officers in the institute said their courses emphasize the importance of personal integrity, study and respect for the badge.
Instructors also stressed the importance of maintaining composure during an emergency and keeping a proactive attitude.
The training the institute provides instructors from the consortium universities is similar to the curriculum of the MPD1s training, Stafford said.
She also said the consortium allows each university to cut the costs of training by sharing the expense. The institute1s board of directors is comprised of the directors from each university1s police department, including Stafford.
3The directors look at it as a professional training course that will hopefully make the officers more professional in what they1re doing,2 Stafford said. 3It really gives us another level of credibility in our field.2