The university reminds students to plan ahead, pay attention to their surroundings and heed other safety tips this fall.
By Kristen Mitchell
Darrell Darnell, senior associate vice president for safety and security, is reminding George Washington University students to stay vigilant and prepared for any emergency situation this academic year.
“If you’re on campus, if you’re off campus, be aware of your surroundings. I recommend people use the buddy system when they travel,” Mr. Darnell said. “I think if you follow basic tips you should be OK regardless of the situation or where you are.”
Mr. Darnell encourages GW students to think of their residence halls as home for the time they are on campus. They should not give out their GWorld cards to people who don’t live in the building, and they should not let strangers follow in the doors behind them, he said.
“If someone is trying to tailgate into your building, and you don’t know who that person is, what I would recommend you do is quickly call the GW Police Department so we can send somebody over to you to check out the situation,” Mr. Darnell said. “Don’t put yourself in an unsafe position.”
Students are also encouraged to download the GW PAL app, free on iOS and Android devices. The app gives GW students, faculty and staff a direct connection to emergency services. Through the app, users create a profile and can contact emergency services for assistance, call for a safe ride, submit tips to GW Police and receive recent GW Alerts.
The app also enables live tracking, allowing dispatchers to track users as they move through campus after a two-step activation process.
Here are some additional safety tips:
- Keep the door to your residence hall room locked to deter and prevent theft
- Plan your route ahead of time and research the best ways of keeping your valuables safe on Metro if you are traveling to a different part of the city
- Be aware of your surroundings and report anything unusual or out of place
- Use the buddy system and share your location with friends and family when exploring the city
- Program emergency contact numbers into your phone
- Verify the driver’s identity before you enter a ridesharing vehicle
GW Police recently launched segway patrols, which will increase officer visibility and provide increased mobility, GW Police Chief RaShall Brackney said. The new program includes five segways in Foggy Bottom, one on the Mount Vernon campus and two at the Virginia Science and Technology Campus.
“Segways provide increased mobility and visibility for our officers. Additionally, segways reduce physical barriers that impeded students, staff, faculty and visitors from engaging our officers,” she said. “They are great conversation starters."
The segways will improve officers’ ability to assist with large crowds and traffic control as additional people come to campus for sporting events and Colonials Weekend, Ms. Brackney said. To date, 95 percent of GW’s Campus Special Police Officers have been trained to drive a segway.
This year GW Police also will be ramping up social media use to share safety tips on Facebook and Twitter. The department plans to continue its Digital Media Program, which last year rolled out a series of digital videos featuring student actors with messages about GW’s smoke-free policy, pedestrian safety and reducing thefts in the residence halls.
Students are encouraged to visit the 13th annual GW Safety and Security Expo on Sept. 19 on University Yard. At last year’s event, students learned how to use a fire extinguisher and basic self defense. They also had the chance to connect with other local and federal law enforcement agencies.