The following message was sent to the University community on July 19, 2023.
Dear members of the University community,
One of the great strengths of Catholic University is our sense of community and our concern for each other. As President, I’ve sought to be open with you. That means not only sharing good news, but also addressing difficult topics such as the recent crimes that have affected us.
My leadership team convened an emergency session yesterday to discuss safety on campus in light of Monday’s homicide on Monroe Street. I want to update the community on what was discussed in that meeting and report on elements of our action plan to reinforce security in and around campus (see also my letter from July 15).
Increased police presence, particularly on the perimeter
The Department of Public Safety (DPS) is currently operating at full force. This means that we now have more uniformed officers on foot, vehicular, and bike patrols.
The violence of the past weeks originated off campus, which serves to focus particular and immediate attention on the perimeter of campus, particularly on John McCormack Road. We know that this area is of serious concern due to the heavy use of the Metro.
Metro Transit Police have increased their patrolling of our station, to include longer visit by supervisors and physical presence at the entrances to the CUA station and at the John McCormack Road crosswalk. Additionally, we have engaged a security support service that will provide security at the entrance of the Brookland/CUA Metro station on John McCormack Road.
Before the beginning of the academic year, we will increase the number of security guards on John McCormack Road so that from 6 a.m. to midnight every day there will be an officer patrolling the Metro stop, and one at Taylor St. near the DuFour Athletic Center.
Additional support from MPD
We have been encouraged by our strong partnership with the Fourth and Fifth Districts of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Kirk McLean, our associate vice president for Public Safety and Emergency Management, will convene an urgent meeting with MPD to ask for more resources to help us increase our safety and security as a campus. He will ask for the following:
- More frequent and longer patrols by MPD on John McCormack Road, which is on the south side of the campus by the Brookland/CUA Metro station.
- An MPD representative to provide safety guidance at First-Year Orientation.
- Additional police presence on Monroe Street during peak times throughout the school year and during the summer.
- Information on MPD or District programs and resources available to enhance campus safety.
According to recent crime statistics, the number of incidents of crime around our campus has largely remained flat this year compared to last year. The exception is auto theft, which has risen across the District. This news can give us a small measure of assurance that the latest series of incidents isn’t part of a large increase in crime in the area. Additionally, according to the website NeighborhoodScout, which is used by people looking for homes in the area, our Brookland neighborhood campus is in the safest neighborhood in D.C. While this information doesn’t remove the need to be vigilant, it can help us to craft more targeted, effective strategies to keep our community safe.
Engagement with city leadership
I have reached out to both President Patricia McGuire of Trinity University and President Wayne Frederick of Howard University to begin a conversation on how to address crime in our respective neighborhoods. I have also asked to meet with Mayor Bowser to discuss crime in the District, its impact on our community, and the safety of our campus. Other members of our community have reached out to us and have expressed interest in working with us and MPD to increase safety in our community.
Gather the community
For those of you on campus, the regular 12:05 PM Mass in St. Michael’s Chapel will be offered on Thursday, July 20 for peace and healing in our neighborhood. All faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend.
I will hold a town hall meeting Wednesday, July 26 to discuss safety and security on campus. I encourage you to join the meeting on campus, but there will be an option to join virtually. Please look for more information about this very important meeting.
There are no words to express how frustrated and saddened I am with the increase in violence near campus, in the District, and around the country. We deeply feel the pain from the loss of life and concerns about safety.
You have my personal commitment that I will pull every lever I can to create a safer place for our students, faculty, staff, and those who visit our campus. Please join me in continuing to pray for our campus community, for all who have been affected, and for an end to the violence affecting communities across our nation.