While the general consensus among students seems to be that University Police officers spend their weekend nights breaking up parties and responding to noise violations, they mostly just spend a lot of time driving around in circles.
UPD Special Police Officer Jonathan Crews spent a few hours Saturday night with The Hatchet, explaining that one of the focuses of his job is deterrence. By patrolling the campus and remaining visible to students, Crews said, he tries to stop incidents before they start.
“About 80 to 90 percent of the job is high visibility,” he said. “That’s what it’s about.”
Crews, a North Carolina native who has been with UPD for about a year and a half, started off the evening by checking out a blue light activation near City Hall. When he arrived he found it was a false alarm. Crews then parked his UPD car near the Foggy Bottom Metro station and started patrolling the area on foot.
“This area always has a lot of pedestrian traffic,” he said. “So I like to make sure I walk through here.”
After solving a debacle at the Metro and directing pedestrians where to go because a train was broken down, Crews got back in his car and headed toward UPD headquarters at the Woodhull House at 21st and G streets.
He had been called to transport a community host, a student who makes sure people sign in or swipe their GWorlds at residence halls, to the Hall on Virginia Avenue. Crews said the night was turning out to be a slow one.
“There’s nothing on the radio tonight,” he said. “You can hear it yourself.”
Crews proceeded to slowly drive past an empty Kogan Plaza and Marvin Center, keeping a lookout for anything suspicious.
“It even looks like they’re bored,” he said, referring to an EMeRG volunteer sitting outside of the Marvin Center on her cell phone.
Crews said he never knows what to expect from the night shift, adding that the weekends are not always busier than weekdays.
“Every day is a different day,” he said. “You get used to it.”
As Crews drove across campus to HOVA, he passed several other UPD officers on patrol, and they politely waved to each other.
“One thing about police officers is that it’s about brotherhood and sisterhood,” he said. “They are a really tight community and that’s really a universal.”
After stopping at HOVA, Crews turned around and headed toward another edge of campus. He drove past The Aston, which was quiet, and then headed towards Thurston Hall.
Crews explained that UPD officers remain within a certain radius of campus. He said the farthest into the city officers go is University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg’s house, at 2241 Bancroft Place, where officers go by and walk the grounds twice a night.
Thurston Hall was the only rowdy place on campus, with hordes of students outside and taxis lined up along F Street. Crews got out of the car to talk to the officer at the front desk and picked up another service aide.
While walking through the crowd, Crews smiled at the students and asked how they were doing. He said he likes interacting with the students, and hopes they like interacting with him as well.
“I want people to feel like they can trust me,” he said. “They can come up to me and talk to me so I can do my job. That’s why I love to talk to students.”
Despite the lack of people around campus, Crews continued to patrol and drive around in circles for the remainder of his time with The Hatchet, making sure to drive through alleyways and parking garages to check for suspicious activity.
Finally, he parked for a few minutes outside of the Munson and JBKO residence halls on I Street.
“I like sitting in specific areas and remaining highly visible,” he said.
That really is what an officer’s night is about.