As a rule, if you promise food, they will come. And students turned out en masse for a George Washington University Police Department’s Safety Tips community outreach event on University Yard Thursday evening. They lined up in front of tables stacked with boxes of Chic-fil-A sandwiches and pizza, kiosks overseen by officers not in uniform, spinning cotton candy and serving up bags of hot popcorn, Captain Cookies and ice cream and offering up bags, swag and tchotchkes—all to music blasted by Kevin DJ Pheelin IT.
GW Chief of Police James Tate said the police department holds events like this that are not about enforcement to build trust with the community, particularly with students.
“They don’t get a chance to see us enough in this sort of role, in this sort of engagement with the community,” Tate said. “It is important that we do this, and we decided to do this at the beginning of the semester when our new first-years are here to make a good impression on them.”
Kasia Makowska, a foreign exchange student from London, came with her fellow exchange student Nora Bergstrom. “We came for the food but stayed for the safety,” Makowska said. “If anything happens there’s a policeman on every corner. It has its advantages because you feel there’s always someone you can come up to.”
First-year student Jennifer Igbonoba said she took in several safety tips during the event, some of which reinforced what she already practices such as walking in groups, avoiding walking with loud music blasting in her earplugs and remaining aware of her surroundings.
Students like laughing twins and seniors Patrick and Sean Tajanlangit took advantage of the chance to see GWPD patrol cars up close inside and out and others tried keeping their balance walking along a yellow line for a mock sobriety test. Drew Dodd, Gianna Cook and Janna Destil, officers of the GW Black Student Union, came as volunteers to show appreciation for the department.