With the largest incoming class since 2010 arriving on campus, officials with The Catholic University of America conducted a second safety walk on August 16 to demonstrate the actions taken to improve security on and around campus - and what still needs to be done.
Led by Associate Vice President of Public Safety and Emergency Management Major Kirk McLean, the evening safety walk was the second such walk conducted within the last month. These two safety walks, town hall meetings, and other activities by the University followed a spate of violence that shocked the usually peaceful campus community. Kentucky high school teacher Maxwell Emerson was killed on July 5 on campus and there was another deadly shooting near campus on Monroe Street, on July 17. An alumnus who lives nearby was also violently assaulted on July 13.
"Walking together and noticing anything that needs to be taken care of, because we want to make sure we start this academic year off right," said McLean when speaking with ABC7 just prior to the walk.
Indeed, senior officials - including Provost Aaron Dominguez, Chief of Staff Larry Morris, and Campus Chaplain Father Aquinas Guilbeau - participated in the walk. Each of them, along with others, took part in pointing out areas that needed improvement, such as increased lighting around campus and on its perimeter.
In addition to this walk, another one was led by University President Peter K. Kilpatrick on July 25 during the daytime. On that walk, members of the Metropolitan Police Department and Metro Transit Police were on hand. As a result of that walk and conversations that Kilpatrick had with D.C. government officials - including Mayor Muriel Bowser - both the District and Metro have stepped up patrols and visibility in the area.
Additionally, the campus has executed an action plan that includes everything from training and arming all campus police to starting a “Keep Catholic Safe” campaign that will encourage students, faculty, and staff to follow safety and security practices. The University also has a new section on its website - www.Catholic.edu/safety - that includes up-to-the-minute information about safety and security, including a dashboard showing the progress of actions being taken.
McLean, in his interview with ABC7, also stressed the importance of the visibility of his department on campus, emphasizing that increased patrols make a big difference to the campus community.
"We have added coverage with bike patrol, we’ve increased our foot patrol and also vehicular patrol," McLean said. "It seems to be working, and I know our incoming class will be excited to see what has taken place here."