Despite several violent assaults near campus in the last few months, overall crime in Foggy Bottom has been lower in 2009 than it was in 2008.
This year, total crime in the Police Service Area 207, which encompasses the Foggy Bottom campus, is down by 6 percent from the same time period last year, according to the MPD crime-mapping Web site. The drop has been primarily seen in property crimes like thefts, stolen cars and arson, which are down by 9 percent, according to the MPD crime map. Violent crimes, which include robberies, assaults and sex abuse, are up by 25 percent in the 207 area. Since the beginning of the school year, there have been 10 such crimes, according to crime map data
University Police Chief Dolores Stafford said D.C.’s Second District, where GW is located, is a historically safe area.
“The Second District is one of the safest areas of the city. The homicide rate has historically been low in the Second District,” Stafford said in an e-mail. “We recognize that crimes can happen anywhere, therefore, we plan the levels of security for the campus with prevention and deterrence as the primary goals and we train and prepare our officers to respond to all crimes when they occur.”
Stafford said UPD officers are routinely trained to handle all types of crimes.
“The GWPD officers are trained in standard law enforcement patrol response, preliminary investigation and crime scene preservation,” Stafford said.
Metropolitan Police Department Commander Matthew Klein was unable to comment before press time.
Melvin Stevenson, a self-described panhandler who has lived in Washington for eight years, works at the intersection of 23rd Street and Washington Circle and said he thought the area has become more safe.
“At street level it’s a lot better than it was eight years ago. There are less homeless people on the street than there were,” said Stevenson. “It might have something to do with the police doing a good job.”
Junior Ashanthi Eisele said she generally feels safe on campus, but exercises caution late at night, and coordinates with her friends to make sure everyone stays safe.
“My roommates and I actually have a buddy system, one of my roommates just the other night was walking back with someone and she told me his name and what he looked like,” Eisele said. “GW is downtown, there are lots of lights, lots of people; the only time I feel uncomfortable is three in the morning when I’m coming back from Gelman.”
Elliott School employee Grant Schneider, who has lived in D.C. for five years and currently lives in Adams Morgan, said he thinks D.C.’s reputation for crime is on par with other cities.
“I don’t think I do anything out of the ordinary here that I wouldn’t do in L.A. or New York,” Schneider said. “If you live in a city, you’ve got to deal with it.”
Elliott School graduate student Andrew Martinez said he felt the same way.
“I’ve had people tell me they’ve heard bad things about D.C., but I don’t think that’s any more so than any other city,” Martinez said.
This article appeared in the November 2, 2009 issue of the Hatchet.