by CALLIE HARKINS
The University of Mary Washington Department of Police and Public Safety officially moved to a new office space in Eagle Village on Dec. 19, 2023. The location features reinforced front-facing walls and bullet-resistant glass, among other technological advancements such as improved security camera monitors and evidence storage.
According to UMW Chief of Police and Associate Vice President of Public Safety Michael Hall, this is the first time the Department has been headquartered off campus. However, the new location does not change how campus police interact with the community, per Hall.
“Just because we moved here does not remove us from the heart of the campus,” he said. “The mission of the police department is to protect the community, and we do that by collaborating, coming together, regardless of our differences. But the shared end goal is if we want the community to be successful, we have to do it together.”
The move follows a temporary relocation to South Hall that took place in Nov. 2022 after the previous office in Brent House had to be vacated due to concerns regarding the building’s structural integrity, according to an article published by The Weekly Ringer in April 2023. South Hall served only as a transitory space because of the building’s noncompliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The new office in Eagle Village is smaller than those in South Hall and Brent House, but the space was renovated specifically for police operations prior to move-in. The Department is currently fully functional, but construction on new, accessible locker rooms and minor maintenance—such as resurfacing and painting interior walls—is still taking place. Hall is hopeful that these projects will be completed within the next month and that an open house can take place soon after.
Unlike the two previous locations, the office in Eagle Village is split into two disconnected spaces located on different floors. The primary public location—accessible to students and community members all hours of the day, year-round—hosts the communications operation and physical offices for various members of police staff. The second floor, which is located in the Executive Offices, includes space for the office manager, file room and other administrative needs.
“I think the staff have embraced the move,” said Hall. “It’s something to get used to because it is different. The separation is a barrier, but I know that we will overcome that. We’ve never been in separate places, but that’s fine because it’s still from a functional standpoint–the administrative things that take place here [on the second level], versus the day-to-day things on the first level. So we work through those. The staff are resilient; they are just like, ‘Tell me where I need to go.’”
The University is currently leasing the space, but plans to purchase the office are underway, according to Hall. Prior to the Department’s move before winter break, the location stood empty.
Some students expressed that the change may make it difficult for those living in residence halls on the opposite side of campus—such as Randolph, Mason, Bushnell and Jefferson—to access, but they recognized that the move was a necessary and ultimately positive change.
“It’s a bit of a walk for freshmen students which a majority of them live on the other side of campus, but this provides a more centralized and long-term residence of the UMW Police Department,” said Carlos Nunes, a senior political science major.
Tim McCarthy, a junior biochemistry major, agreed the move was overall beneficial to the campus community.
“I think Eagle Village is a better location for them because that’s where I hear most of the trouble happens,” he said.
The office is now located at 1127 Emancipation Highway and can be reached via phone at the on-campus emergency number 540-654-4444 and non-emergency number 540-654-1025.