Parents & Families

October 31, 2013

Message from UWPD Chief of Police

Dear UW Parents and Families,

With the 2013-14 school year in full swing, the University of Washington Police Department (UWPD), a unit of the Division of Student Life, is excited to connect with you – the parents and families of the many new and returning UW students. For those of you I did not get to speak with at one of the many parent orientations over the summer, I came to the UWPD in February of 2008, becoming the university’s seventh police chief. Over my nearly five years with the UW, I have been continually impressed with the men and women of this department who demonstrate their commitment to community-oriented policing on a daily basis, providing crime prevention information, public safety services and innovative problem solving for the campus.

The UWPD serves and protects more than 68,000 students, staff, faculty and visitors 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. As a department in the midst of a thriving cosmopolitan environment, we offer the technology and training of an urban police agency. Our patrol vehicles are equipped with Mobile Data Computers and video cameras, and our officers are equipped with modern tools of the trade. Our sworn officers complete training at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission Academy or equivalent training, and many hold associate, bachelor and even master’s degrees in public service-related fields. Our officers are highly trained in many facets of law enforcement, including crime prevention, first aid, criminal investigation and crisis intervention. The UWPD is a nationally accredited agency.

Because our service call load is lower than many municipal agencies, officers do not run from call to call. This allows them to provide high-quality customer service. Officers choose to work here because they know they will have more opportunities to practice proactive policing, to exercise their creativity in problem solving and to collaborate with other law enforcement partners and university departments.

As a campus police agency, we have developed customized resources and training for the particular challenges of a university campus, including a residence hall patrol unit, a victim advocate, nighttime safety escorts and a Rape Aggression Defense program for the community, specifically designed for women on university campuses. We want you and your family members to know about these services and make use of them when needed.

The department is very proud of our Husky NightWalk program, a safety walking program operated by security guard staff members. Uniformed security guards escort students, faculty and staff members at night from 6:30 pm to 2 am year-round, with later hours in the summer. Students can request services by calling 206.685.UWPD (8973).

The department also employs a full-time Victim Advocate, a licensed social worker available to help students, staff and faculty who have been a witness or victim of a crime. The advocate assists with locating resources, obtaining protection orders, developing safety plans, filing for compensation and navigating the criminal justice system. She can be reached at 206.543.9337.

Additionally, the department offers training in Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) for women on campus. The training is a free service provided by certified police instructors. RAD is a simple yet effective program of self-defense designed for women on university and college campuses. The program teaches realistic self-defense movements that do not require special skills, years of practice or any particular level of fitness. For more information, please contact the UW Police Department front office at 206.543.0507.

The department also helps keep our community members safe by disseminating information about emergencies or other serious situations. The UWPD sends out timely warnings about recent crimes that pose potential concern; these emails are sent to all members of the UW community (unless opted out). Parents can receive these emails by signing up for WatchDawg alerts. Additionally, students can sign up for UW Alert. UW Alert disseminates official information during emergencies or crisis situations that may disrupt the normal operation of the UW or threaten the health or safety of members of the UW community. We strongly recommend that students sign up for these messages, which can be received by text or email. The department also uses Facebook to interact with our community, providing crime prevention tips and information about services.

The UWPD is committed to your safety. I hope you have found this information helpful. If you have questions or concerns, please contact me at 206.543.0521 or by email at You can also keep in touch by following me on Twitter at UW_PoliceChief.

Thank you so much for your partnership in keeping our students safe as they work, study and live at the University of Washington.


John N. Vinson, Ph.D.

Chief of Police