The University Police Department will relocate its headquarters to the Academic Center in June, a move the unit’s leader hopes will stifle crime in high-traffic areas.
The department’s shift to a more centralized location – across the street from Gelman Library and on the same block as the Marvin Center – could reduce crimes like theft, which are common in these student spaces, police chief Kevin Hay said.
“This will put us a little closer into the mix, and will ramp up our uniform presence in the heart of campus, so we think that is going to be a very positive move,” Hay said.
The move will combine the Office of Emergency Management and the Office of Health and Safety and UPD under one roof for the first time, after about 20 years of GW’s police officers operating out of Woodhull House at 20th and G streets.
Darrell Darnell, senior associate vice president for safety and security, believes his staff will benefit from sharing a larger workspace.
“It will provide an opportunity for even more transparency and coordination of all of our safety and security efforts,” Darnell said.
As part of the move, the unit’s radio system will be updated to align with federal guidelines for law enforcement agencies’ radios that go into effect in January of 2013. Six officers told The Hatchet in February that the handheld units used to call for backup often malfunctioned, but Hay stressed earlier this month the new radio system was not due to nonworking equipment.
UPD is “very close” to finalizing a contract for the radio system, Hay said, and he hopes to have it installed by mid-summer. He declined to disclose its cost.
GW will also purchase new computers for the dispatch center to allow more officers to work at once, Hay said.
“Right now, we are kind of cramped. We want to be able to scale up our operation when we need to, if things are really busy,” Hay said.
The new dispatch center will fit up to three officers – instead of the current one at Woodhull House – and allow the police department to send officers out to both campuses through below-ground Internet technology.
“If we had something catastrophic happen in Foggy Bottom and say, our new radio room here is part of a disaster and it gets taken out, we will now be able to dispatch from our station up at Ames Hall,” Hay said.
UPD was slated to move last summer, but it had to wait until the Division of Information Technology moved into University-leased space at 21st and M streets. University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard declined to comment on the cost of moving the division.
This article appeared in the April 26, 2012 issue of the Hatchet.