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Dear Howard University Community,

As part of our continued commitment to care for the University community, the Howard University Department of Public Safety wants to remind our students, faculty, and staff that we are in this together. Each day when our officers gear up to patrol our campus, they do so with your safety in mind. We are constantly thinking of ways to protect you. In keeping with their commitment, we want to remind our community members of the often under-utilized resources that are readily available to support your safety.

Institutions foster secure communities through transparency and community collaboration. We urge you to take note of our regular communications regarding safety programming and tips, many of which you'll find below. 

Bison SAFE app – the emergency response tool for the University 

Every student, faculty, and staff member on campus is urged to download the Bison SAFE app to their phone. In a campus message published last week, we outlined how the Bison SAFE mobile app provides a number of contact modules for police assistance. 

  • Friend Walk: This is a function to alert contacts of your location. The program can monitor your movement in real-time between your current location and a marked destination. It allows you to make emergency calls to DPS with the touch of a button. 
  • Mobile Bluelight: This can be used to instantly connect you with DPS and provides dispatch to your precise location in the case of an emergency. 

Personal safety best practices

Our back-to-school message dated January 21 detailed many of the safety tips that are best practices for moving throughout the community, particularly during late hours. These same tips are published in every DPS communication, including crime alerts and safety messages to campus. It is critical that you familiarize yourself with them and use them when traversing the campus and city streets. These best practices include:

  • When possible, avoid isolated and dark areas and walk with friends, especially at night. Otherwise, use the shuttle service to avoid traveling on foot across campus and in the D.C. vicinity during dark hours. The campus shuttle has an app that allows you to track the exact location of a bus, while on its route.
  • Keep your cell phone close, but be aware of your surroundings. Don’t walk around with your “head in your cellphone.” See something. Say something.
  • Lock your room door especially when you are asleep or out of the room, even for a minute.
  • Don’t leave personal property unattended that has public access, such as offices, libraries, cafeterias, classrooms and other open spaces.
  • Immediately report any suspicious activity or suspicious individuals to the HU Police Department at 202-806-1100; please program this number into your cell phone for quick access.

We will continue to emphasize the importance of these tools to the Howard University community and stress their value in keeping our campus safe. In addition, heightened DPS patrol aided by the Metropolitan Police Department will continue for the near future in response to the recent public threats against the University. 

Earlier this morning, two students were regrettably victimized by an armed robber. The incident occurred at 8th Street and Bryant Place, two public streets that are adjacent to but not on University property.

Dispatch records and details provided by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) indicate that the area was being patrolled by public safety officials staffed by both the MPD and Howard University’s Department of Public Safety. They were in the immediate vicinity of the crime but did not have a visual of the incident. As soon as MPD and DPS were notified of the incident, they ensured the victims were safe and were on the scene to canvas the area. The crime is being investigated by the Metropolitan Police Department, and we will update our campus community as the investigation proceeds.

Surveillance technology, mobile applications, personnel patrol patterns, and public information are effective and proven crime deterrents. They complement but are not adequate substitutes for keen awareness and the use of best safety practices of our campus community. We pledge to continue providing accurate information and strategies to deter bad actors that any institution in a metropolitan area has to consider as part of its safety strategy. We are again asking for your support in making these resources part of a culture of safety and care for each other.

The University Counseling Center has trained counselors available to you and can be contacted by phone at 202-806-6870 or via email at HUCounseling@howard.edu to request an appointment. Howard University employees have access to mental health services through our insurance provider.

We take every criminal incident seriously and are continuously working to prevent crimes against our Howard University community. Please engage with DPS, and use the tools at your disposal, so that collectively, we can have the strongest response to crimes, and better yet, we can work to prevent them.

Excellence in Truth and Service, 

Marcus Lyles, Executive Director and Chief of Police
The Department of Public Safety