The Catholic University of America

Campus Safety

Safety First, Safety Always - 2008 Archives


11/07/08 Some Emergency Phones Out of Service

The university is experiencing phone system problems that are affecting some blue light and other emergency phones on campus. The Department of Public Safety is posting signs on emergency phones that are out of service due to these problems.

Should you need to contact the Department of Public Safety in an emergency, please call 202-319-5111.

Betsy Ramsey
Director, Information Technology
Center for Planning and Information Technology

Posted 5:15 p.m.


11/05/08 Update on Suspicious Package

The Department of Public Safety reports at 1:35 p.m. that the Metropolitan Police Department has completed its investigation of the suspicious package found on John McCormack Road and determined that it posed no threat to the public. The package has been removed and the street will reopen shortly.

Office of Public Affairs Posted at 1:45 p.m. ************************************************

11/05/08 Suspicious Package

At 12 p.m., the Department of Public Safety reports a suspicious package has been found on John McCormack Road near the law school building. The Metropolitan Police Department has blocked the street until it determines that the area is safe. No buildings have been evacuated.

Office of Public Affairs Posted 12:10 p.m.


10/17/08 Campus Public Address Alert System to be Tested on Oct. 21

The Department of Public Safety wishes to inform the CUA community that a test of the public address alert system will be conducted on campus Tuesday, Oct. 21, beginning at 9 a.m. The testing will occur for short periods of time individually at each of the 23 outdoor stanchions throughout campus where the security devices are installed. At each location, the test will consist of activation of a strobe light, activation of a siren, and an announcement that the test of the system is underway. The campus community is being advised in advance so that the testing process does not cause concern. In addition to testing each unit individually, the vendor will also test one group of stanchions simultaneously along John McCormack Road. The process of testing the entire system on campus is anticipated to take approximately six hours, though individual tests will be brief. A member of the Department of Public Safety will be on hand during each test to address questions from passersby. For more information, call the Department of Public Safety at 202-319-5111.

Posted 2:48 p.m.


10/03/08 A Message from Student Health Services

The District of Columbia Department of Health on October 2, 2008, informed Georgetown University officials that initial test results indicate that the recent gastrointestinal illnesses affecting Georgetown students is caused by norovirus. This virus is highly infectious and can be spread from person to person. With this in mind, we would like to remind all students to be vigilant about hand washing. Do not share eating utensils and refrain from group activities if you are ill. Please see the District of Columbia Department of Health Web site for additional information about norovirus at

If you develop symptoms of nausea and vomiting, please see suggestions on our Web site at or call us to make an appointment at 202-319-5744. If you are experiencing extreme dizziness, lightheadedness, increased abdominal pain or blood in the vomit, you may need to be seen in the Emergency Room. When Student Health Service is closed, there is always a physician available by phone for consultation. Calling the after-hours physician is always recommended before heading to the ER. The number to call to speak with the on-call physician is 202-269-7000. The operator will get your information and have the doctor call you.

Catholic University Student Health Services

Posted 2:55 p.m.


09/25/08 Public Safety Reports Serious Accident near Campus

At 1:05 p.m. this afternoon there was a serious 6-vehicle accident at the intersection of Harewood Rd. and Michigan Ave. Several people have been taken to the hospital with injuries. Preliminary indications are that no one from Catholic University was involved in the accident. Police have been diverting the traffic at the intersection.

Posted 4:25 p.m.
Updated 4:55 p.m.


09/23/08 Catholic University President Writes Letter to Undergraduates re. Alcohol

Dear Students,

The new year is off to a great start and, one month into the fall semester, folks seem generally happy and adjusted. I have become slightly alarmed, however, at the number of incidences of underage alcohol consumption that have been reported to me by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Office of Student Life. Each day, DPS sends me and other members of the administration a report of the previous day’s activities. Almost daily, one or more underage underclassmen are cited for excessive alcohol use, usually to the point of being sick or passed out. Students have been found lying on the ground off campus --- a recipe for real disaster --- or in various places on the campus, drunk and requiring transport to the hospital. And I have run into drunken students myself downtown, on the METRO or stumbling back to their residence halls.

When I say in my orientation talk, “don’t be stupid here,” everyone laughs but this is what I am talking about. Underage drinking is against the law. Excessive drinking makes you sick … where’s the fun in throwing up and passing out? Intoxication often leads to other stupid behaviors like fighting, putting yourself in danger or taking inappropriate liberties with your body and that of someone else, just to name a few. All of these things have been reported to me since school began.

I take great pride in The Catholic University of America and many of you have heard me say that we have the greatest students in the world. I’d like to believe that you believe that, too. I’d like to believe that you’d like to be known as having “real class” and being different from your peers in all the big “party schools.” I’d like to believe that you are smart enough to stay away from all the garbage so readily available but that leads nowhere fast. Most of you are. Some others are not.

I know that this letter will quickly become the source of jokes for some and fodder for all kinds of critical commentary. Believe me, I have enough to do around here and elsewhere. The reason prompting this letter is one of concern that some younger --- and not so younger ---- members of the CUA community are getting started on the wrong foot or continuing on a path that will only hurt them and others. I beg you, please, think before you drink. Don’t put yourself and others in harm’s way and don’t jeopardize your academic career at CUA and the trust your parents have in you.

The overwhelming majority of you don’t need this message. For those who do, I simply ask that you consider it … for your own sake and for all of the rest of us who care about you.

Thanks for reading this.

Father O’Connell, President

Posted 2:05 p.m.


09/04/08 Metropolitan Police Checks Out Bomb Threat at Shrine

Earlier this evening CUA's Department of Public Safety received a phone call from an individual claiming to have placed a bomb in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. DPS notified public safety officers at the National Shrine, who in turn notified the Metropolitan Police Department. MPD dispatched officers to check out the Shrine. At approximately 10:20 p.m. MPD completed its sweep of the National Shrine and confirmed that the bomb threat was a hoax.

At around the same time as the bomb threat was being investigated, a power outage in parts of Washington also temporarily affected portions of campus. The outage was unrelated to the bomb threat and the subsequent investigation of it.

Office of Public Affairs

Posted 11:08 p.m.


09/04/08 Tropical Storm Hanna

As of this afternoon, forecasters predict that Tropical Storm Hanna may strengthen into a minimal hurricane as it continues toward the southeastern coast, making landfall on Saturday morning in the Carolinas. Depending upon the ultimate track of the storm, there is some potential for severe weather (heavy rains and strong wind gusts) in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area on Saturday. It is also possible that Hanna could simply produce some minor showers if it tracks further to our east. The university continues to actively monitor the storm and will implement additional precautions should the forecast suggest a significant weather event for our area. Students are encouraged to check the Safety First, Safety Always Web site and your CUA e-mail account for updates in the event that additional precautions are necessary.

Jonathan C. Sawyer Associate Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students

Posted 04:10 p.m.


08/25/08 Incident at Spellman Hall

At approximately 7:20 p.m. this evening, some students in Spellman Hall noticed a suspicious smell in the first floor stairwell. It occasioned students’ coughing and gagging as they inhaled the fumes in the stairwell. The students immediately reported the smell to the Public Safety Associate stationed at the desk. She, in turn, contacted the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and was told to pull the fire alarm to evacuate the building. DPS commanders and officers reported to the scene immediately and within minutes the DC Fire Department (DCFD) was also on the scene with battalion commanders, fire and other emergency personnel. Staff members from CUA’s Office of Housing and Residential Life were also present to account for evacuated student residents from Spellman. In addition, the President; Luke Alar, Director of Environmental Safety; and the Chaplain came to Spellman. DCFD entered the building with equipment and determined that there was nothing threatening to the health and safety of students. The fumes disappeared quickly. Luke Alar, DPS Officer Lt. Carr, Father O’Connell and other DPS and housing staff walked the five stories of the building's stairwell and through the corridors. By 8:00 p.m., the situation was deemed by DCFD officials as “under control” and not dangerous. As a precaution, students were asked to wait outside for a period of time until a final clearance was given.

DCFD and DPS believe the fumes were the result of a “prank” and indicated that they were caused by a small canister of pepper spray or mace opened in the stairwell, judging from the odor. No students or staff were hurt in the incident and no one required any medical treatment.

Office of Public Affairs

Posted 08:48 p.m.


08/20/08 Public Safety Continues to Enhance Campus Security

Some might think that summer would be a slow season for CUA’s Department of Public Safety since most students aren’t on campus then, but au contraire. The department’s staff has been working throughout the summer to install new security systems and devices in preparation for the return of students.

The installation of a public-address alert system in 23 key locations throughout campus is nearly complete. It should be finalized by mid-September, at which time public safety plans to test the system with the campus community present. The loudspeaker alerts will consist of brief messages communicating an emergency or present danger on campus. Catholic University will be the first university in the District of Columbia to employ this kind of outdoor announcement system.

Thomasine Johnson, director of public safety, emphasizes that the all-campus public address is not replacing the university’s use of the DC Alert text messaging system or any of its other emergency notification methods; it is a redundancy being put into place to ensure that emergency messages are disseminated as widely and rapidly as possible throughout the community. Other systems in place to communicate emergencies include fire alarms; announcements sent over e-mail and voicemail; alert messages on the CUA Web page ( and the Safety First Web page (; public announcements broadcast from public safety vehicles; and verbal announcements made by foot patrol officers and each university building’s watch captains, area captains, resident assistants and area coordinators.

In addition, technology has been acquired this summer to deliver emergency alerts through the campus’ cable television service. Later this year the university will be able to interrupt all programs on all channels to issue a message to the university in cases of emergency.

Last year, cameras were installed around campus, enabling the public safety office to monitor outdoor activity on closed-circuit television 24 hours a day. Five new cameras were installed recently to monitor key spots such as the McMahon Hall parking lot and a vehicular entrance to campus that didn’t previously have a camera.

Several new outdoor emergency phones were also installed over the summer and some of the older phones were replaced. Two of the newest phone stanchions, which include the public-address alert capability, were installed near the athletic fields of the Raymond A. DuFour Center. They are the emergency phones located farthest from the Department of Public Safety headquarters. There are now more than 120 emergency phones on CUA’s campus.

The Department of Public Safety has recently opened a backup “nerve center,” complete with closed-circuit camera surveillance screens, in the Columbus School of Law on the east side of campus. This location will enable the entire safety operation to relocate if the main nerve center on the west side of campus is rendered inoperable in an emergency situation.

Aside from bringing in new technology to help keep students safe, public safety is also working with students to make them more aware of how to stay safe. Crime prevention programs will be conducted in the residence halls.

The number of instructors in the popular RAD (Rape Aggression Defense) program has increased from two to five this year. The purpose of the class is to teach females viable self-defense options so they can escape attack situations. (A program schedule will be posted at by September.)

The university also has worked to make the process of arriving at CUA smoother for incoming freshmen. Since the university has been expecting its largest freshman class ever, long lines were foreseen for students picking up their university IDs. Teaming up with CUA’s Center for Planning and Information Technology, the Department of Public Safety created a secure program through which students could upload a photo of themselves so that their IDs could be created ahead of time and be ready for them when they arrived on campus. At least 40 percent of new freshmen, transfer students and law students chose to take advantage of this opportunity.

To assist in day-to-day operations, last March the Department of Public Safety hired Cheryl Pendergast as associate director, a new position that works with the department’s administrative services and with its patrol officers.


On February 29, 2008, at approximately 2 p.m., Hyattsville City police responded to a report of a shooting at the Towers at University Town Center in Prince George’s County, Maryland. When officers arrived, they found an individual in an apartment with a gunshot wound. He was transported to a local hospital where he died a short time later. The victim was visiting a resident at the Towers. Police do not believe this was a random crime; however, they cannot comment on motive due to the ongoing investigation.

The Towers at University Town Center provides housing for approximately 900 students who are enrolled at 13 D.C.-area universities including Howard, American and Maryland. Approximately 55 students from CUA live there. The shooting incident did not involve any CUA students.

Detective Brian Selway, who is investigating the shooting, and Kim Moss, the director of community operations, hosted a safety awareness meeting on Saturday, March 1, at the Towers. This meeting was designed to inform students about safety precautions and provided an outlet to discuss the incident and ask questions. Heidi Zeich, CUA director of housing services, attended the meeting. Ms. Zeich learned that all residents will be notified by the management of the Towers once an arrest is made in this case. A second meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 5, at 5:30 p.m. for those who were unable to attend the March 1 meeting.


02-16-08 Suspected Brookland Shooter is Killed

The Associated Press reports that the person suspected of shooting a U.S. marshal in Brookland yesterday (see below) was killed in a firefight with law enforcement authorities in Laurel, Maryland, today. A law enforcement officer was wounded in today's exchange.


02-15-08 Gunman Flees Brookland after Shooting U.S. Marshal

The Metropolitan Police Department informed Catholic University's Department of Public
Safety this afternoon that at 1:24 p.m, while being served a warrant, a gunman shot a U.S. marshal in the area of 7th and Irving streets in the Brookland neighborhood. The suspect was last seen fleeing on the railroad tracks east of campus. When CUA administrators learned of the shooting, students in Spellman and Conaty residence halls – the areas of campus closest to the shooting -- were informed at around 2 p.m. to stay in their buildings and exercise caution. After about 20 minutes the alert was lifted. There is no evidence to suggest that the gunman is in the area. There has been a significant Metropolitan Police Department presence near the south area of campus this afternoon because police have used it as a staging area for their investigation and search.

The Department of Public Safety has a heightened presence on campus and continues to monitor the perimeter of campus with its camera system. Updates will be provided as they become available.

Posted 2:50 p.m.
Updated 3:00 p.m.
Updated 3:50 p.m.

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02-08-08 Injured Student Transported to Hospital

Earlier this afternoon, a Catholic University student was injured in an accident on campus. A portion of one of his fingers was severed. He was rushed to Union Memorial Hospital, which contains the largest and most experienced hand center in the United States. A CUA classmate accompanied him in the helicopter. His parents have been notified.

12-05-07 Fire in Residence Hall Trash Receptacle Is Quickly Extinguished

Early this morning a fire broke out in a large plastic waste receptacle in the first floor hallway of Regan Hall, a student residence hall on the east side of campus. The alarm was received at 2:51 a.m. Students were evacuated and accounted for, with no injuries. The fire alarm and sprinkler system worked properly and the fire, which was limited to the waste receptacle, was quickly extinguished by the sprinkler system. The District of Columbia Fire Department was on the scene, as was Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., university president and Director of Public Safety Thomasine Johnson. Water damage was limited to the ground and first floors. At 9:15 a.m. all residents of Regan Hall were permitted to re-occupy their rooms.


11-19-07 Police Apprehend Carjacker

This afternoon, the police pursued a carjacked vehicle in Prince George’s County and the District of Columbia. The pursuit ended on Harewood Road near Ward Hall when the vehicle collided with a fixed object and several other automobiles. The suspected carjacker was apprehended at the scene. Preliminary indications are that no one was injured.

11-13-07 Campus Safety Update
There has been an increase in robberies in the Fifth Police District of Washington, D.C., of which Catholic University is a part. Several of these robberies were committed against CUA students in the Brookland community.

To address these concerns, Catholic University’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) will host a safety awareness meeting at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15. The meeting will be held in Hannan Hall, Room 106. All CUA students as well as others members of the university community are strongly encouraged to participate in this forum and discuss their concerns.

DPS has been coordinating closely with all local police agencies, specifically MPD’s Fifth District, to address the crime situation as well as the safety of the CUA community.

The Fifth District has undergone a change in leadership and the assistant chief, commander, captains and PSA lieutenants are actively responding to the needs of the CUA and Brookland communities. In October, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced and implemented the start of Operation Full Stride, which involved placing hundreds of officers on foot patrols.

In addition, Catholic University has taken these immediate measures:

-- The number of marked patrol vehicles and foot patrols in operation has been increased.
-- DPS officers and field supervisors have been assigned to work overtime to bolster patrol visibility and strength.
-- As mentioned above, DPS and MPD will host a safety awareness meeting Nov. 15.

Capt. Linda Vann
Department of Public Safety

10-22-07 Important Health Update for CUA Students
Late Friday afternoon, Oct. 19, 2007, Catholic University officials were notified that a CUA undergraduate student had been infected with Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA or Staph. The student has been receiving appropriate treatment off campus since the time the university learned of the infection and a full recovery is expected. The student will return to campus after the risk of transmitting the infection has passed.

University staff have disinfected the areas of the residence hall in which the student normally resides that would be considered at risk for possible exposure to the bacteria.

Staph are bacteria commonly carried on the skin or in the nose of healthy people and are one of the most common causes of skin infections in the United States. Most of these infections are minor and require little or no treatment. However, antibiotic-resistant staph or MRSA can cause very serious infections. Staph infection symptoms may look like a pimple or boil and can be red, swollen, painful or have pus or other drainage. More serious infections may cause pneumonia, bloodstream infections or Toxic Shock Syndrome.

As with combating the possibility of any infection, practicing good hygiene is fundamentally important. Personal preventative measures include the following:

1. Keep your hands clean by washing thoroughly with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
2. Keep cuts and scrapes clean and covered with a bandage until healed.
3. Avoid contact with other people’s wounds or bandages.
4. Avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.

Staph is transmitted most frequently by direct skin-to-skin contact. Remember, you can protect yourself from infections by practicing good hygiene, which is also highly recommended for the upcoming flu season. For more information on staph, cut and paste the following link -- -- into your browser. If you have specific questions regarding staph infections, please contact Student Health Services at x5744.

Jonathan Sawyer
Associate Vice President and Dean of Students

8/17/07 Update on Public Safety Initiatives

Dear members of The Catholic University of America community:

As we prepare for the beginning of the 2007-2008 academic year, I wanted to provide you with an update on public safety initiatives we have been engaged in since the conclusion of the spring semester. One of the most exciting is the university’s investment of more than $900,000 to enhance our public safety technology. This technology will be installed on campus in the coming weeks. Below are highlights of our recent initiatives.

Technology Upgrades

-- As part of CUA’s public safety strategy, the university entered into partnership with iXP Corporation of Lawrenceville, NJ, in February 2007 to review the existing public safety/security environment and to assess the technological enhancements to that environment which would be most beneficial for CUA.

-- In July 2007, the university initiated implementation of the first phase of recommendations suggested by iXP. This included cabling and electrical work and network upgrades as a preliminary step toward the installation of 22 “smart” closed circuit television (SCCTV) cameras in strategic locations around the campus. These cameras will permit the Department of Public Safety to monitor key areas and passageways on the campus such as the area entering and exiting the Brookland-CUA Metro station and the perimeter along Harewood Road, Michigan Avenue and John McCormack Road. Cameras will be mounted on buildings, poles and emergency phone stanchions in such a way that the aesthetic integrity of the campus will be maintained while, at the same time, making the emergency phones more visible to students as a “safe haven” and to potential criminals as a crime deterrent. These new cameras will supplement already existing security cameras on campus.

-- The SCCTV cameras will enable the Department of Public Safety to monitor, with real-time video, high-traffic areas throughout the campus. They will be accompanied by state-of-the-industry behavior recognition technology that will automatically alert public safety officers to specific camera views if unusual or suspect behavior is detected.

-- Eleven new emergency phones will also be installed in readily identifiable locations. They will include a blue emergency strobe light, the word “EMERGENCY” in large letters along the side of the stanchion, and an SCCTV camera to both deter crime and assist the Department of Public Safety in assessing an immediate threat and taking the appropriate action. These new phones will supplement existing emergency phones.

-- Every effort is being made to complete all necessary preliminary work in residence halls (i.e., electrical, cabling and network upgrades) prior to students’ arrival on Aug. 23. The emergency phones and SCCTV cameras are slated to be online and actively monitored by the Department of Public Safety by the end of September 2007.

-- The Department of Public Safety is also considering an upgrade to the new emergency phones that would enable it to broadcast emergency notifications and instructions via the phones’ speakers throughout the campus.

Crime Prevention and Safety Initiatives

-- With the return of students to campus for the fall semester, the university will re-engage the services of contract security patrols. One contract security patrol vehicle will be stationed near Conaty Hall and the other near the Metrorail entrance. Coverage will be provided from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. each day.

-- The Department of Public Safety expects to more than double the number of public safety assistants (PSAs) that it employed last year. PSAs provide service and assistance to members of the campus community. They support DPS officers by being additional eyes and ears for the department and act as a source of information, goodwill and public relations. Increasing PSA staffing will enable DPS to add Flather Hall as a new location for PSA coverage. It will also make it possible to provide 16 hours of continuous PSA coverage each day.

-- The following residence halls will be staffed by PSAs 16 hours per day, beginning at 4 p.m.:
* Spellman
* Conaty
* Flather

PSAs will also staff the desk at:
* DuFour Center
* Kane Student Health and Fitness Center

Training and Conference Attendance

-- All full-time commissioned uniform patrol officers must be recertified annually in a number of areas. CUA public safety officers successfully completed these recertifications:
* Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation
* Automatic External Defibrillator
* Non-lethal weapons and self-defense training

-- Police Cyclist Certification: 2 officers successfully completed it.

-- Campus Public Safety Institute: 2 officers successfully completed it. Successful completion of the course is required by the District of Columbia municipal regulations for an officer to qualify as a campus and university special police operator.

-- R.A.D. Systems of Self Defense, Instructor Development Course: 1 officer completed it.

-- Seminar, Emergency Management in Higher Education: This is a summit of public safety directors and select federal agency representatives to examine challenges and needs of campus law enforcement

Emergency Response Planning

-- The leadership of the Department of Public Safety has been collaborating with the District of Columbia first responders — the metropolitan police and fire departments and DC Homeland Security — to conduct an emergency drill on campus in coming months that will involve the entire Department of Public Safety and university emergency support function teams.

-- CUA was one of a number of local area universities that recently signed a memorandum of agreement with the District of Columbia Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency (HSEMA) enabling each signatory university to be included as a community in the “Alert DC” emergency notification system. This means that authorized representatives of CUA can now use the Alert DC text message system to notify members of our university community when the information they wish to send meets the criteria listed below:

* to provide emergency information
* to communicate time-sensitive crime alert information involving a serious crime against persons

For this tool to be highly effective, it is necessary for members of the CUA community to be proactive in signing up to receive Alert DC messages. Details on this can be found below, in the announcement that immediately follows this one.

In closing, I wish to reiterate a message that I have shared with you in the past. As you can see, the Department of Public Safety, in collaboration with a number of other offices on campus and with very strong support from Father David O’Connell, CUA’s president, has been working hard to enhance security at CUA. But as we have often seen in the past, safety and crime prevention often depend on wise decisionmaking and vigilance. Please remember to do the following:

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

-- Help us help you by contacting us at x5111 if you see suspicious individuals or suspicious activities on campus.

Thank you.

Thomasine Johnson
Director of Public Safety

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8-13-07 Catholic University Offers Emergency Text Message Notifications Through "Alert DC"

Following the shootings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University on April 16, Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., authorized university officials to add instant text messaging to the array of emergency notification tools to be employed for alerting members of the campus community of imminent danger. After a careful review of all the available text messaging options, the university’s Department of Public Safety, Center for Planning and Information Technology, Office of the Dean of Students, and Office of Public Affairs decided that the most effective way of providing emergency text messaging to students, faculty, staff, parents of students and friends of the university is through the “Alert DC” system established by the D.C. government’s Department of Homeland Security.

The benefits of choosing this option include:

- Capability of authorized CUA representatives to issue an emergency notification to the CUA community through the “Alert DC” system.

- Capability of members of the CUA community to sign up for emergency messages that pertain specifically to Catholic University or to sign up for additional messages (e.g., severe weather, traffic conditions, emergencies in the Brookland neighborhood, etc.)

- Assurance that the information being transmitted is coming from a highly reliable source
Faculty, staff, students and others who sign up will receive urgent text messages to their cell phone, Blackberry or other mobile device. In order to be eligible to receive any messages, however, you must first sign up at

How it Works
The Catholic University of America is one of a number of area universities that have opted to register as an institution with the “Alert DC” system. When critical alerts affecting our campus are broadcast by the “Alert DC” system, pre-registered recipients will receive a short text message to their mobile device. Several CUA administrators have authority to request that messages be sent through the alert system. These requests will quickly be approved by DC Emergency Management personnel, who also have instant access to law enforcement and homeland security information that they can disseminate, as needed.

Anyone can sign up to receive emergency notifications affecting CUA, even if you do not live in the DC area. To register, please visit the Alert DC homepage ( and create an account (click the New User link in the last paragraph). After selecting CUA and other communities/neighborhoods, you may also select the level of alerts that you wish to receive.

When is it Used?
The “Alert DC” system will only be used by authorized CUA administrators to transmit short, truly urgent messages that affect the entire campus community (not, for example, snow closings). An emergency message from the CUA administration might include a shelter-in-place message or an evacuation alert. Note that the DC government also uses this system to notify the public of government office closings, severe weather conditions, and traffic conditions.

The “Alert DC” system represents an important enhancement to CUA’s emergency notification system. Depending on the level and type of emergency, it will be used with one or more of the following communication options already in place at the university:

- Fire alarms
- Audible public announcements broadcast via public safety vehicles
- E-mail and list serves
- CUA Web pages
- Phone messages
- Building safety captains

The “Alert DC” system is fully operational for The Catholic University of America. Students, faculty, staff and others are encouraged to sign up at their earliest convenience.

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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