After Navy Yard Shootings, Emphasizing Campus Safety

Darrell Darnell, senior associate vice president for safety
Darrell Darnell, senior associate vice president for safety and security, discusses the shootings and safety measures in place for GW.
September 18, 2013

In the wake of Monday’s deadly mass shooting just miles away from campus, George Washington Today spoke with Darrell Darnell, senior associate vice president for safety and security, about the university’s procedures for an active shooter situation on campus and what community members should do in an emergency situation.

Q: What procedures does the university have in place to safeguard the campus in the event of an active shooter?

A: In addition to the training that the GW Police Department officers receive, the department also provides training and education to GW employees and students on prevention of workplace violence and how to respond in an active shooter situation. This training is delivered at orientations, staff meetings and other venues. We are in the process of developing a multimedia version of the training that will be available to GW employees on Skillport. 

Beginning in the fall 2013 semester, phones located in the nearly 80 technology-enhanced classrooms on the Foggy Bottom Campus will now provide a direct link to the GWPD Dispatch Center for use during police, fire and medical emergencies.

We also provide information on how to respond to this type of incident in the Emergency Response Handbook, which is located in buildings throughout all of our campuses, and can be downloaded on our Campus Advisory website.

Q: How do the university and GWPD coordinate with other law enforcement agencies?

A: On a regular basis, the Office of Safety and Security coordinates with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the District’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) through a variety of means such as regularly scheduled meetings, sharing of information and joint exercises.

Last month, we conducted an exercise with the Metropolitan Police Department and the D.C. government to assess our ability to conduct a joint response to an active shooter incident on a GW campus. The exercise included a real-time operational response involving MPD and GWPD officers and tested the university’s incident management processes, including activation of GW’s emergency operations center on the Foggy Bottom Campus.

Q: There were conflicting reports about the numbers of Navy Yard shooters and victims in the media. Where should GW community members look to for accurate information in the event of a shooter or other safety threat on campus?

A:  I encourage everyone to stay informed by actively following our campus advisory website, official GW social media sites and GWAlerts. However, I want to caution that in a situation such as what occurred at the Navy Yard, information often will change as public safety officials assess the situation and become better informed as the incident unfolds. While unofficial social media may be a useful tool for some information, our campus advisory website and other GW communication tools will provide an accurate repository of current and updated information as the incident unfolds and we receive it from official law enforcement sources and other public safety officials. 

Q: What safety tips do you have for university community members?
A: Be aware of your surroundings. If you notice or hear something unusual, report it immediately to the GW Police Department.

Q: How should community members react if they hear of a shooting or other campus emergency?
A: Remain as calm as you can, obtain as much information as possible and report the threat immediately to GWPD at 202-994-6111 or call 911. For additional safety tips and information, consult the Emergency Response Handbook.