University Police said hiring policies will not change after a UPD officer was arrested for armed robbery this month. Terease Gooden, a three-year veteran of UPD, was arrested Nov. 4 by Prince George’s County Police and charged with two counts of armed robbery.
University spokesman Bob Ludwig said Gooden’s employment was terminated Nov. 15 after Gooden lost her D.C. police commission.
Court documents report Gooden and one man, driving a Dodge Neon, approached several individuals on Sept. 21 and asked if they were selling cocaine. When the individuals said no, Gooden revealed a “silver badge” attached to her belt.
According to a criminal warrant obtained from the Prince George’s County, Md. District Court, Gooden said, “If you move, I’ll be forced to pull my gun” after she ordered victims and witnesses to the ground.
Gooden then handcuffed one victim, took $100 from his wallet and returned the wallet. The male driver then placed his knee on the back of another victim and took $300 from his wallet. Both individuals returned to the car and fled the scene.
Police connected Gooden with the robbery after discovering a previous robbery in which a black female suspect emerging from a Dodge Neon also showed a silver badge on her belt and identified herself as a police officer. The Dodge Neon was registered and owned by Gooden. Two victims later identified Gooden as the female in the robbery.
Gooden’s bail is set at $100,000 and she will appear in court Dec. 2. She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted, according to the warrant.
“There was nothing I could have done to predict that an officer would have been involved in this type of incident,” UPD Chief Dolores Stafford said.
UPD conducts background checks with a prospective officer’s previous employers but relies on Metropolitan Police for criminal background checks, Stafford said.
Because the background checks take six to eight months, UPD uses the six-month probation period to train people, Stafford said. Prospective officers undergo more than 700 hours of training.
Stafford also said trainees are not designated officers until background checks are complete.
Gooden received her commission from the MPD Security Officer Management Branch in 1999, despite two prior criminal offenses, one for possession of an open alcoholic beverage container and a second for trespassing on private property.
MPD’s Security Management Branch grants UPD officers a commission, which gives UPD officers special policing power on University grounds.
UPD officials said their hiring procedures would not change, despite Gooden’s arrest.
“We do everything we can through our own department and our own processes to make sure that we hire (law-abiding officers),” Stafford said.
GW students said they were dismayed by the recent arrest.
“That’s just disappointing,” freshman Maggie Dempsey said. “How can they expect students to obey the law when (University) police officers don’t even do it?”
“I’m surprised, because I trust these people with my safety,” junior Keith Morel said. “If officers are committing crimes, then I don’t want them protecting me.”
-Mosheh Oinounou contributed to this report.