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Public safety is the issue of the day at Georgetown University after a string of crimes, including sexual assaults, both on campus and off in recent days and months. An editorial in today’s issue of the Hoya, a student newspaper, offers the latest snapshot of a level of crime it rightly calls “unacceptable”:
In a three-day span from Sunday to Tuesday, one sexual assault, one attempted break-in and one robbery occurred in Village A, one assault occurred on 34th Street, and one break-in (involving close contact on a couch between the suspect and the victim) occurred on 33rd Street.
The editorial goes on to say it’s the “shared responsibility of both safety officials and students to step up their efforts to turn the recent tide of crime” and that the on-campus Department of Public Safety and D.C. police “must be used as resources and seen as partners in the Georgetown community, no matter what grumbles and grievances students may have about either one.”
Georgetown student Kate Taylor, a junior in the School of Foreign Service, weighed in, also in the Hoya, with some of those grumbles and grievances.
She described her experience in the aftermath of the break-in in her Village A apartment, in which her roommate returned to find a ground-floor window open, the front door ajar, and some cash missing from a wallet, by her account. (Note: Although the students should have reported the crime right away, they waited until the next morning to do so, thinking it was just “bad luck” and an isolated incident.)
College students don’t often have the best relations with cops, but we still look to them for protection in threatening circumstances. When my roommates and I went to DPS to report the crime, the DPS officers were extremely understanding and helpful as we issued our report of the break-in.
Unfortunately, the representation from the Metropolitan Police Department was just the opposite. The officer from MPD who was called in to take the report arrived 20 minutes into our meeting with the DPS officer. Throughout the process, the MPD officer repeatedly criticized us for our delayed report and seemed to doubt our accounts of the previous night. At one point she simply denied the possibility of anyone coming into the room through the open window, and then accused one of my roommates of misplacing her money.
In a clearly rehearsed tone, the officer said, “I’m not victimizing the victim,” but then informed us that we were all suspects. At the end of the interview, we were left shell-shocked by the officer’s demeanor. My view of the competence and character of MPD was definitely compromised, which frightens me more than I can say. What chance do we have against crime when our own police officers spend more time scolding victims than listening to them?