Ninety days after Washington raised its terror alert level to high, Metropolitan Police officials still have no timeline for when vehicle checkpoints will be removed from campus.
MPD officials remained tightlipped about their security protocol surrounding the World Bank and IMF last week, calling the activity a “basic surveillance of the area.” In August, University and city officials said the checkpoints would be in effect through the November election and possibly the January presidential inauguration.
Since the World Bank and IMF buildings were cited as a possible terrorist attack targets on Aug. 1, MPD officers have staffed checkpoints surrounding the international institutions; large trucks, vans and sport-utility vehicles have been subject to search.
University Police chief Dolores Stafford said her department was in constant communication with MPD leadership.
“I make contact with officials from the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice on a regular basis,” Stafford said. “The uniformed staff members (of UPD) are regularly advised of specific areas where we want them to focus their attention, depending on the information we receive from internal and external agencies.”
While MPD officers have become a fixture on campus since August, Stafford said their presence has not deterred the most common types of campus crime, such as theft, vandalism and liquor law violations.
“Unfortunately, it is not possible to know or determine what types of crimes have been deterred because (MPD officers) have been more visible in the area,” Stafford said.
She added, “Look at the crime statistics for the city … Foggy Bottom in particular is definitely one of the safest areas.”
The placement of MPD officers at 21st and F streets has led residents of The Dakota to confront these checkpoints just outside their door.
Sophomore Priya Ramanathan said she does not find the officers to be much of a problem.
“It doesn’t affect me at all,” Ramanathan said. “I am actually kind of indifferent to it.”
Sarah Krantz, who also lives in the building, said she appreciates the police presence.
“When I’ve seen them there, I do feel better,” Krantz said. “I think, ‘There’s a cop nearby, and I’m safe.'”
Stafford said security precautions in and around the GW vicinity were among the best in the world.
“There are not many places … that have more police and security agencies patrolling their area,” Stafford said. “There are over 40 federal, local and private police agencies in D.C. alone.”
-Michael Barnett contributed to this report.
This article appeared in the September 23, 2004 issue of the Hatchet.