The Catholic University of America

Campus Safety

Safety First, Safety Always - 2006 Archives


4-20-06 Safety Task Force Finalized, Consultant to Begin Safety Audit

Today Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., CUA president, made public the composition of the new Presidential Task Force on University Safety and Security and revealed that a safety consulting firm would begin a comprehensive audit on campus in less than two weeks.

Father O’Connell earlier announced that he had tapped W. Michael Hendricks, vice president for enrollment management, to chair the presidential task force. Other members of the task force are:

* Michael Green, Director of Planned Giving

* Barbara Howard, Associate Professor, Biology

* Veryl V. Miles, Dean, Columbus School of Law

* Victor Nakas, Executive Director of Public Affairs

* Susan Pervi, Vice President for Student Life

* Kevin Petersen, Director of Facilities

* Ralph Scherini, Associate Vice President for Business Services

* Susan Weir, Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Finance & Administration

Father O’Connell said, “the members of the presidential task force represent a good cross section of our CUA faculty, administrators and staff. I’m grateful to them for agreeing to serve and I’m confident they will be ready to roll up their sleeves and get to work.”

The president has charged Susan Pervi with appointing a student task force on the same issue to work directly with her and her staff in the Division of Student Life. She, in turn, will represent the students’ concerns to the presidential task force.

The president also announced that the university has engaged the services of the Bratton Group, a New York-based police management and security consulting firm. The Bratton Group has served clients throughout the United States and abroad, and has conducted security studies at various universities, including Brown, the University of Houston and City University of New York.

He said the Bratton Group team will arrive on campus during the week of May 1 to begin its comprehensive security audit.

“We have all been greatly concerned by the recent armed robberies on or near campus,” said Father O’Connell. “Thankfully there have been no serious injuries. But I am absolutely committed to doing everything in my power to provide the very best public safety and security I can to everyone at CUA and, above all, to our students. It’s not a problem we can solve overnight, but it is a problem we must solve.”

Michael Hendricks has scheduled the first meeting of the newly constituted task force during the week of April 24 to prepare for the arrival of the Bratton team. Members of the task force will assist the Bratton Group as it conducts its safety review of the university.

(For updated information on campus safety and security issues, visit

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On April 6, 2006, Father David M. O'Connell, C.M., university president, held an hourlong meeting in Nugent Hall with Metropolitan Police Department Chief Charles Ramsey to discuss concerns about the safety and security of members of the Catholic University community, especially students. Also present at the meeting were Assistant Chief of Police Brian K. Jordan, 5th District Commander Jennifer Greene and 5th District Captain Melvin Scott.

Father O'Connell thanked Chief Ramsey and MPD for stepping up their presence on and near CUA's campus, reviewed the crimes committed against CUA students several weeks ago, and asked for additional help and advice on improving the safety of CUA and its community. MPD officials provided an update on their investigation of the armed robberies, which occurred March 17-19. Areas of discussion included the MPD patrol presence in the vicinity of CUA, improved lighting on and near campus, and better control of campus entrance and egress. Chief Ramsey volunteered to have MPD officers come to campus to speak to students about personal safety.

According to Father O'Connell, "many detailed, substantive issues" were discussed. "Chief Ramsey and his colleagues made a number of excellent suggestions; some of them are for Catholic University to pursue, others the Metropolitan Police Department promised to follow up on,” said Father O’Connell. “Precisely because they involve issues of security, some of the details of the discussion and strategies cannot be made public at this point, but CUA administrators and our Department of Public Safety have already begun to take the necessary next steps, and MPD has promised to do so quickly as well."

To view a photo of this event, visit

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3-27-06 CUA President Discusses Safety Concerns with DC Police Chief

Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, CUA president, spoke by phone to Metropolitan Police Department Chief Charles Ramsey this morning. Father O’Connell expressed his concerns about public safety in the area around Catholic University and asked Chief Ramsey for an opportunity to sit down with him in the next week to share information and to discuss strategies being planned by MPD. In addition, the president has solicited proposals from experienced security firms for a comprehensive review of campus safety procedures. A decision is expected by Wednesday regarding the proposal and the firm that will be selected.

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3-23-06 Update on Safety Outreach to CUA Community

Beginning on Monday, March 20, the Division of Student Life has been sponsoring a “For Your Safety” table in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center main lobby. The primary purpose of the table has been to provide safety resources to students and to engage in conversation about safety on and around campus. Student life reports that feedback has been positive: many students have come to talk to university staff and student volunteers to receive information and ask questions.

On Monday and Tuesday, the table was staffed from 5 to 8 p.m., when there are many students in the Pryzbyla Center coming for dinner. Between 150 and 200 students stopped by the table on Monday; an additional 50-75 visited the table Tuesday. On Wednesday the numbers decreased to 15-20. The table will continue to be staffed Thursday and Friday from at least 5 to 6 p.m., and longer if there is student interest.

Volunteers have been discussing with students the message to the community issued March 20 (see below) by Director of Public Safety Thomasine Johnson. A laptop display has also been available to demonstrate to students the “Safety First, Safety Always” Web site.

Specifically, volunteers have been encouraging students to:

* Be vigilant and aware both on and off campus

* Utilize "high traffic" and visible routes when walking around campus

* Walk routes identified to them where DPS officers posts and officers are in close proximity.

* Avoid short cuts through less active areas of campus

* Use DPS shuttles and escort services

* Walk in large groups whenever possible

* Wear CUA IDs when out and about the campus

The volunteers have been providing students with a new Cardinal Card lanyard, and reminding them that, if they have lost their ID, they can visit the Department of Public Safety to get a free replacement.

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3-20-06 Message From DPS Director

Dear members of The Catholic University of America community:

I am writing to provide you with an update on a series of armed robberies that have occurred in the Fifth Police District of Washington, D.C., of which Catholic University is a part. According to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), between Friday and Sunday, eight armed robberies were committed in the fifth district. Two of the armed robberies were committed against CUA students. In a third incident, a CUA student was threatened without a weapon being displayed. MPD reports that several of the armed robberies may be connected.

Thankfully, according to MPD, no one has been injured in any of the robberies.

Catholic University’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) has been coordinating closely with all local police agencies, including MPD’s Fifth District Robbery Task Force, to address the crimes committed against our students and the safety of our CUA community.

In addition, Catholic University has taken these immediate measures:

The number of marked patrol vehicles and marked bicycle patrols in operation has been increased.

DPS officers and field supervisors have been assigned to work overtime to bolster patrol visibility and strength.

We have reinforced our public safety department’s efforts by engaging a contract security agency to provide us with additional security guards.

New security measures are being implemented on campus during late night hours.

To address long-term safety issues, Father David O’Connell, CUA president, has established a presidential task force on public safety. He has appointed W. Michael Hendricks, vice president for enrollment management, to chair the task force. Mr. Hendricks has experience with safety issues from his previous professional positions at other universities.

We are committed to the safety of every member of the Catholic University community. There are several ways in which you can help us help you.

1. Please have your CUA ID on your person when you are out and about on campus or entering or exiting the campus. Please be cooperative with public safety officers who ask to see your ID. If you have lost or misplaced your CUA ID, you can obtain a new photo ID for free by going to the DPS office in Leahy Hall.

2. Please be vigilant and aware of your surroundings on and off campus. Use “high traffic” routes. Avoid short cuts through isolated areas.

3. Please visit CUA’s “Safety First” Web site ( ) for crime prevention tips and updates on safety related news. Please direct interested parties to that Web site for the latest news.

4. Help us help you by contacting us at x5111 if you see suspicious individuals or suspicious activities on campus. At this time my staff and I are directing all our energies to policing the campus. Your comments and concerns matter greatly to us, but we ask that at this time you not use x5111 to engage us in general discussions about campus safety. If you wish to pass along comments, please send them to .


Thomasine Johnson
Director of Public Safety
The Catholic University of America