Three City Hall residents said University Police failed to respond to phone calls for almost two hours early Tuesday morning after a friend walked into their room to find an intruder. The residents said their requests for immediate UPD action were initially disregarded, but officers were finally sent to the location after a third phone call.
“The dispatcher (who answered the telephone) made a mistake” and UPD did not “dispatch (an officer) on the first call,” said UPD Police Chief Dolores Stafford.
She also said corrective action was taken against the dispatcher for his lack of action.
Stafford said six officers were sent to the scene. She said the man, whose name is being withheld, was apprehended at 2:45 a.m., about 30 minutes after the residents said UPD arrived at City Hall. Stafford said the man is barred from campus, and he will be arrested for trespassing if seen on campus again.
The black male is 5 feet, 6 inches tall, weighs 150 lbs. and has black hair and brown eyes, according to UPD. Residents said the man has a “very low voice.”
Junior Nicole Kaplan, a resident of the 11th floor City Hall room, where the individual was found, called UPD’s late response “unacceptable.”
“I’m really disappointed with UPD,” Kaplan said. “There was no reason why action shouldn’t have been taken.”
Junior Rebecca Friedman, also a resident of the room, said although it is not necessary for a UPD officer to sit at City Hall’s front door, she would like “UPD to be more attentive to requests.”
Parents and friends of the four students in the room expressed concern to UPD and CLLC, but officials said they cannot promise to station an officer in the residence hall or other extra security measures.
Stafford said while “a police officer in front of the building is certainly an option,” she cannot react to every on-campus intrusion with an additional officer. She said incidents like these are “not uncommon.”
Stafford said UPD would need 390 officers if one were assigned to each building 24 hours a day, and that it would cost an extra $100,000 per year to hire officers.
She said UPD is still investigating the case, and does not know whether the man entered through the front door because the videotape taken of City Hall that night has yet to be reviewed.
Kaplan said she and her two roommates went to sleep around 1:30 a.m., but they left their door open for a weekend guest, junior Lindsay McAfee.
She said McAfee entered to find the intruder in the living room and told the man to leave. She said he complied.
Kaplan said she and her roommates called UPD as soon as the door was shut.
She said after waiting about an hour with no UPD response, her roommate, junior and Hatchet Assistant Features Editor Adina Matusow, looked through the peephole and saw the man. Matusow said after two more telephone calls, UPD replied and sent officers to City Hall.
Stafford said Thurston Hall and the Hall on Virginia Avenue, both freshmen residence halls, are currently the only residence halls with 24-hour security.
Stafford said Thurston is staffed because of its proximity to the World Bank and it’s “heavy traffic” of 1,000 residents. She said HOVA’s safety measures were made to “mirror Thurston’s.”
There are no Community Facilitators in upperclassman residence halls because residents are more mature, Stafford explained.
“As students get older they’re making more decisions,” Stafford said.
Kaplan said she thinks guards or Community Hosts should be stationed in the residence hall at night, while Friedman said she does not think guards are needed.
When the University acquired City Hall last year, students voiced safety concerns because of the residence hall’s proximity to Washington Square Park and Georgetown.
Stafford noted City Hall is within campus boundaries, and 24th Street is the cut-off for GW property.
This article appeared in the September 5, 2002 issue of the Hatchet.