Early Wednesday morning, a woman was raped one block from campus. Though D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department initially responded, members of MPD did not immediately notify the University Police Department. It is both disturbing and deplorable that a violent crime occurred so close to students, but UPD did not find out about the crime right away. While we understand that MPD processes many calls from all around the District, this gaping hole in communication between two police forces in close proximity to each other is dangerous, and needs to be closed.
The rape occurred close to Washington Circle, behind 2317 Pennsylvania Ave., and while this area is technically considered off campus, it is still heavily populated by GW students. Student residence halls sit very close to this area, many off-campus apartments are just across Washington Circle and students walk though the area on a daily basis. Regardless of whether or not the area falls outside of campus borders, it is close enough that it is frequented by GW students, and the crime committed in the area automatically poses a direct threat to students.
MPD should have immediately notified UPD of the crime itself, and the threat GW students faced. The suspect – who remains at large – could have fled and easily crossed into GW’s borders, putting it under UPD’s jurisdiction.
MPD serves the needs of the entire D.C. area, and is tasked with responding to crimes all over the city. But this simply highlights the need to pass information along to the smaller, more specified police force that operates so close to the scene of the crime. UPD officers regularly patrol campus even late into the night, and could have been a valuable resource after the crime was reported.
This recent and disturbing crime draws attention to the lack of communication between D.C.’s MPD and GW’s UPD. MPD should have realized that this crime posed a threat to GW students, and that someone within the Metro Police Department should have immediately reached out to someone within our University Police Department. Both departments are tasked with upholding safety and protecting the public. MPD has to pass information more quickly to UPD so this communication gap can close. It’s a matter of student safety.
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