Issue Number 4
October 2014
One Year Older and Much Wiser: 
Lessons of Navy Yard Shooting

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier and Dr. Frederic Lemieux at the CPS Event. | Photo: William Atkins

On the morning of September 16, 2013 a mentally disturbed sub-contractor went on a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard that killed twelve people and wounded three others before police shot and killed the shooter.


On the anniversary of this tragic event, the CPS Safety and Security Leadership and Police and Security Studies programs hosted a session with the Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier to review the events of that day and draw lessons for the future.


About a hundred officers from local police and law enforcement agencies, representatives of the Federal government departments, and GW faculty and staff were present. Chief Lanier went over an almost minute-by-minute timeline of those fateful 69 minutes and highlighted a number of major lessons learned. The resulting After Action Report identified 77 items to address and recommended major policy changes, many of which the DC Police Department has implemented.


Some of the major problems mentioned by Chief Lanier:

  • Because the Navy Yard is a closed military base, some of the streets within it were not in the 911 database and it took some time to pinpoint the building where the shootings were taking place.
  • Although DC Police officers had gone through active shooter training, civilian telephone operators who got the calls that day had not been included in that training.
  • Tactics and weapons were unsuitable for tight corridors of the building; for example, police rifles were too long.
  • DC Police, Navy Criminal Investigation Service, building security guards and others were all present and issuing conflicting commands.
  • Channels and frequencies of the radios of different forces were not in sync.
  • The sheer size of the investigation, which comprised a 600,000-square-foot building, 3,000 witnesses, 12 homicides and thousands of rounds of shots fired, was daunting.

In short, the need for better communications, comprehensive training and updated systems were the major lessons we learned from this tragedy.


Following the session with Chief Lanier, Dr. Frederic Lemieux, SSL and PSS program director, presented on the  "Effects of Gun Culture and Firearm Laws on Gun Violence and Mass Shootings in the United States".


Dr. Lemieux explained that while firearm homicide rates in the United States are dropping, mass shootings are on the rise. His quantitative analyses point out that the best predictor of death by firearms is the possession of guns (gun ownership). In other words, gun access predicts death by guns; further, this result is trans-culturally consistent, meaning that this finding is true amongst 25 advanced democracies and 50 states in the United States regardless of the cultural background. Additionally, both international and national multivariate analyses show that gun control legislation reduces overall fatalities related to firearms. As an example, during the 10-year-long ban on assault weapons and large capacity magazines in the United States, total mass shootings, total victims and total injuries and fatalities were substantially lower than during the 10-year periods that preceded and succeeded the gun ban. 

For local CBS TV affiliate's coverage watch: WUSA-CBS 9 

The Consummate Warrior and Professional
Former Marine and CPS Alum Timothy Colomer

"Marine Gunnery Sgt. Timothy Colomer, 32, was leading an explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team on a mission last December when his Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, a Cougar, hit a massive IED. Everyone in the vehicle was knocked unconscious by the blast, but all survived."                                           

So begins a July 2007 story in USA Today about the event that ended Tim Colomer's military career. After serving in the Marine Corps for 14 years, the final year in Iraq where the IED explosion took place, Tim left the service as a 100% combat disabled veteran and started a position at the FBI Explosives Lab at Quantico.              

His new job? Teaching what he had been doing as an EOD professional in the Marines. While working full-time, Tim enrolled in the CPS Master's in Safety and Security Leadership program and graduated in the spring of 2013. He paid for school with his Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and received a GW Yellow Ribbon scholarship. Not long after completing his SSL degree, he went to work as the Global Explosives Safety Officer at Halliburton in Houston where he implements best safety and business practices and ensures Federal compliance for their explosives users and explosives manufacturing division.


Tim states that his professional success owes much to the structure and diversity of the SSL Master's program. The fact that his studies covered all major areas of safety and security, as opposed to other programs that only focus on one or just a few issues, gives him the edge as a professional.                                                                         

Since starting at Halliburton, Tim has been busy instituting cost saving measures for the company that can add up to millions of dollars in annual savings. He is also active in his favorite charity, EOD Warrior Foundation, where he serves as an ambassador. In recognition for his professional contributions, Tim was recently invited to join the board of Institute of Makers of Explosives, the organization that promotes safety and security standards and guidelines for the field.                                     

Drawing on his experience as a student in the SSL master's program, Tim has this advice for others: "No matter the direction a person takes in the safety or security field, a broad understanding and open communications with other related disciplines will make the difference between success and failure. There is no such thing as being over prepared or having too many contacts."


For a report of the IED explosion and an animated video of the event read the USA Today story.

Professor, Dean, and Political Debate Moderator?


Election season is in full swing and like Mrs. Robinson of the Simon and Garfunkel song fame, people all across the country are going to candidates' debates.


Closer to home, CPS and VSTC Dean Ali Eskandarian has been busy introducing candidates and moderators at two such events co-sponsored by GW in the last few weeks. The first, a debate between candidates for Virginia's 10th Congressional District Barbara Comstock (R) and John Foust (D) was held at Leesburg's National Conference Center on September 24.


Dean Eskandarian introduced the candidates for this important election, which national observers and commentators are watching closely because Congressman Frank Wolf (R) is retiring it is an open seat.                                                                                                        

Watch the debate on C-SPAN: Click here for video


The second debate, between US Senator Mark Warner (D) and his Republican challenger, Ed Gillespie, was held on October 8 at the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce. Here, Dean Eskandarian introduced Chuck Todd, moderator of NBC's Meet the Press, who was in charge of the televised event. Although not among the hotly contested Senate seats such as those in Kentucky and North Carolina, the Virginia race is nevertheless important to GOP's hopes of taking control of the chamber after the November's elections.


Watch the debate on NBC4: Click here for video


Everybody a Winner at 
CaPSino Royale!  


The Second Annual Alumni Weekend Reception was held at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel on Friday, September 19. More than 140 alumni, guests, faculty and staff came together for a night of good food, good music and, most importantly, good company at the iconic Washington hotel.


For the first time, the event included alumni and representatives of all three academic units of the college - the College of Professional Studies, the Graduate School of Political Management, and the Center for Excellence in Public Leadership.


Dean Ali Eskandarian welcomed everybody to the special gathering and the Honorable Mark Kennedy, the GSPM Director, followed to present GSPM's Alumni Achievement Awards to Karen Makishima (Political Management, 2001), Todd Webster (Political Management, 1996) and Matt Chase (Political Management, 1998).


CPS Associate Dean Toni Marsh presented Mehvish Khan (Paralegal Studies, 2011) with the college's first Alumni Service Award. Following the awards presentations, CEPL Associate Director Natalie Houghtby-Haddon inspired the audience by her "Four V's of Leadership" speech: Values, Vision, Vector and Voice.

The Willard Ballroom then transformed into

CaPSino Royale where black jack, roulette, craps and Texas Hold'em poker tables became the center of attraction. Participants were each given a fake $1000 bill to buy chips for play at the tables. The bills had a picture of Dean Eskandarian replacing that of President Grover Cleveland whose image appeared on real $1000 bills last!


Nancy Doellgast (Healthcare Corporate Compliance, 2006) and Jonathan Moore (Strategic Public Relations, 2014) won the event raffle.


Tony Harvin, Executive Director of the CPS Office of Alumni Relations, closed the event by saying: "Thank you to all of our alumni, volunteers and attendees for making CaPSino Royale - CPS 2014 Alumni Weekend Reception a success.  We encourage you to keep in touch with one another and as always, stay connected!" 


For more highlights of the reception check out the video gallery and music video here:                                                                                                         

CaPSino Photo Gallery   

CaPSino Music Video



This summer the College of Professional Studies paralegal studies program is launching the Summer Academy, a new delivery model that will provide an array of graduate certificates that center on marketable skills for entry-level professionals.                                      

The first offering in Summer 2015 will be the 18-credit graduate certificate in paralegal studies. If the program is a success the college will launch several more certificates in summer 2016.


"The exciting thing about the Summer Academy is its potential to serve as an incubator of innovation and collaboration - sort of a maker space for intangibles," said Toni Marsh, CPS Associate Dean for New Initiatives. "We envision a physical space where students from different certificate programs spend an entire summer together, all day every day, studying their unique disciplines while sharing ideas and knowledge.  The more programs we can bring together, the richer and environment we'll create."


The Summer Academy is particularly attractive as a model because it allows GW to take a space that would otherwise go fallow in the summer and turn it into a vibrant community of scholars. On campus housing is available, so students can live, work, study, and share in the heart of DC all summer long and then go on to thriving productive careers.


The Academy is geared to veterans, active military, military families and recent college graduates who have good academic histories and will provide them with solid marketable credentials in a single summer.  


Click here to learn more about the Paralegal Studies program and the Summer academy. 

Lean But Not Mean: 
PEMM Cohort 26
PEMM Graduates and CEPL staff on the Foggy Bottom Campus

Cohort 26 of the Program for Excellence in Municipal Management graduated on September 23rd. At the special graduation ceremony, Associate Dean Connie Mokey welcomed the 19 graduates on behalf of GW and CPS and congratulated them on completing five Lean Six Sigma projects for the government of the District of Columbia. Ms. Natalie Mayers, Agency Fiscal Officer at the DC Department of Employment Services, gave the keynote speech. Ms. Mayers is herself a PEMM alumna (cohort 18) and a 2014 Cafritz Award winner.


The District of Columbia has been using Lean Six Sigma as part of its Certified Public Manager training program over the past five years with tremendous success.  Lean Six Sigma combines the Lean principles of speed and waste elimination with Six Sigma focus on improving and sustaining quality from customers' perspectives.                                                                                     

The training program, conducted by the Center for Excellence in Public Leadership and its Certified Public Manager Programs, lasts one year and participants are required to complete actual Lean Six Sigma projects to solve problems in the DC Government in order to be certified.                                                                       

Over the years, these projects have identified about $27 million in savings in addition to more efficient processes that improve services for residents.  Some examples of cost saving Lean Six Sigma projects include reducing overtime in the 911 Call Center, reducing the number of expensive off-site medical visits at the Department of Corrections and reducing patient drop/return to service times in Fire and Emergency Management Services so existing ambulances are used more efficiently.                                 

To date, 78 DC Government employees have completed or are currently in the Lean Six Sigma Training Program. According to Jing Burgi-Tian, the CPMP Program Administrator, one hundred percent of those surveyed indicated that they use the Lean Six Sigma tools learned in class in their current assignments and all of the participants would recommend the training to others.  


Click here to read about how Lean Sigma Six training helps the DC Government.   

Warm Season Grasses of Dumbarton Oaks Meadows


Larry Weaner (foreground with cup) and the participants.
Photo: Jim Osen

CPS' Landscape Design Program, led by Associate Dean Adele Ashkar, co-sponsored a special two-day lecture and site visit to Dumbarton Oaks Park Meadows on October 17 and 18. On the first day, speaking to a sell-out crowd at GW, designer and native meadow expert Larry Weaner discussed the meadows project and how practical plant reproduction strategies can be applied to diverse landscapes. Working with over 80 volunteers and visitors the next morning, Mr. Weaner demonstrated the practices and principles discussed in his lecture of the day before as they toured native meadows in varying stages of restoration at Dumbarton Oaks Park in northwest Washington, DC. According to Prof. Ashkar, "This work is a direct application of the principles that we teach in our Sustainable Landscapes program; Larry Weaner is the nation's foremost expert on meadow design and restoration. Our partnership with Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy is the perfect vehicle for bringing Larry's knowledge and practice to our audience."


The site visited is part of a five-meadow restoration project by the Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy to return the meadows to their native state by seeding them with warm season grasses. The restoration effort is headed by GW-Sustainable Landscape Design graduate Ann Aldrich. According to Weaner, warm season grasses, which are native, are more desirable than cool season grasses, which were imported from Europe, because they sustain the local ecosystem. Cool season grasses matte when they grow, whereas warm season grasses allow for little pockets of life to more easily live amid individual plants. Warm season grasses are natural homes for solitary, non-hive bees and other insects that birds eat. Native birds prefer native insects, which feed on native plants. If meadows disappear, so do the insects and then the birds. Restoring the native meadows at Dumbarton Oaks Park is thus vital to maintaining the ecosystem.


Dumbarton Oaks Park was designed in the 1920's and 30's by the renowned landscape architect Beatrix Farrand but since the 1950s, the park had been left to its own devices. The result was the total takeover of the historic design by invasive non-native plants until the Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy started its restoration efforts in earnest a few years ago. Over literally thousands of hours of volunteer labor, the team at the conservancy has turned the tide, enabling Farrand's design to reappear in many key places. The next phase is recreating the five meadows, all of which had all been overrun except for one.


Given that it may take many years, as long as seven or even more, for the restoration to take hold, Weaner said the conservancy team will need to keep a close watch over the nascent native meadows as any disturbance can easily "push a meadow back to its early stage". The full results of all of these efforts may not be seen for many years, but the seeds have been planted.


For more information read Jared Green's blog on The Dirt Click here


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In This Issue
INSPIRE Participants Inspire Washington

First Cohort of INSPIRE Pre-College Program

The new INSPIRE Pre-College Program welcomed its first cohort of eleven Native American and Alaska Native high school students to the campus on a sunny weekend last July.


Students traveled to the nation's capital from communities reflecting the diversity of America's indigenous peoples for the chance to participate in "Native Politics and the American Political System", a course offered by the Graduate School of Political Management and taught by its alumnus Mellor Willie.


INSPIRE is a growing high school initiative spearheaded by GW's Native American Political Leadership Program, a Semester in Washington Program that has provided over 150 scholarships to visiting Native American, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian college and graduate students since 2006.


As part of the program's leadership development component, the students attended an interactive training session on messaging. Students drove much of the conversation in class and at off-campus meetings and they were very open about expressing their ambitions and concerns and their desire for more resources for revitalization of indigenous languages and cultures.


According to Kraynal Alfred, a member of the Navajo Nation and NAPLP's Project Director, Native American youth deal with a host of issues including higher student dropout rates, alcoholism, substance abuse, suicide and poverty.


During their residency, INSPIRE students researched and developed recommendations for these issues but the political status of tribes in the United States can complicate implementation of any solutions. For example, Native students must navigate through a complex education system of schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education, tribal-operated schools, and public schools. Ms. Alfred says that many are first-generation high school graduates looking to apply to college. INSPIRE aims to provide a college experience while empowering students to tackle important community issues.


The students visited with several policymakers during their stay, including Alaska's sole Congressman Rep. Don Young (R) but the big surprise came when two of the students were selected to attend My Brother's Keeper event at the White House where they shook hands with President Obama!                  


To learn more, click here to read the GW Today story .

How Do You Say MOOC in
Hindi/ Mandarin/Arabic?

India, China, Jordan, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and several other countries now translate, adapt, and create MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) to fit their unique needs. Further, over 1.2 million students from non-Western countries have signed up for MOOCs offered by edX, a non-profit founded jointly by MIT and Harvard in 2012.


Using edX's open-source codebase, 12 Chinese institutions launched their own platform, which has already signed up some 300,000 users since last year. When the Queen Rania Foundation in Jordan opened a similar portal to provide Arabic language content, it adapted the edX code base so it could display text from right to left.


Currently there are almost a dozen other countries working to launch their own versions of edX, according to Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX. Last summer, Saudi Arabia's ministry of labor announced the creation of a portal to teach vocational skills to the emerging workforce. In September, the labor ministry started a pilot program for women and rural youth - two demographics with high unemployment rates - in which Saudi instructors help students through the online content in skills such as financial literacy, English, and information technology.


Maha Taibah, an advisor to the labor ministry, says the government will provide relevant content to a local audience. "What works in Saudi will be different than what works in the States. . . . Obviously there is cultural adaptation." Some courses will be developed from scratch, others licensed from edX and other universities.


Ultimately, adopting MOOCs into formal education systems, perhaps through classroom and online hybrids, may proceed more quickly in the developing world, where demand for education outstrips supply. These homegrown courses and providers in developing countries could help resolve serious issues around language and pedagogy that arise when educators adopt US content without modifying it.


Other major platforms, such as Coursera, are also expanding quickly around the world and adding more international universities. In Rwanda, a $1,000 MOOC-based university is using in-person teaching assistants to help students learn with the assistance of online lectures.          

For more information read Jessica Leber's story in Co.Exist:  Click here


Of Note 
CPS Professor and SSL and PSS Program Director Frederic Lemieux is the co-editor of a newly published volume, Economic Development, Crime, and Policing: Global Perspectives (CRC Press, 2014)



The book explores the interrelations between policing, socioeconomic development and crime. More precisely, contributors place an emphasis on these complex interrelations by providing worldwide perspectives and case studies. In relation to these three central topics, authors contributing to this volume address specific issues, such as youth violence, economic downturn and global crime trends, restorative justice and recidivism, community-based policing, investigation techniques applied to financial crimes, policing gang violence, implementation of the rule of law in post-conflict countries, and policing transportation infrastructures. The publication presents these issues by organizing the chapters according to their regional perspectives: global, modern democracies, emerging democracies, and newly industrialized countries. The book is sponsored by the United Nation's Department of Economic and Social Affairs.


CEPL Rolls Out Its Redesigned Newsletter

CEPL Executive Director Jim Robinson reminds us that "The staff of the George Washington Center for Excellence in Public Leadership is proud to introduce a redesigned version of our E-Newsletter. The new design of this digital publication has been several months in the making, and we are very excited to showcase what we've prepared for you. With our new digital magazine format, we are hoping to bring you a visually-appealing, interactive publication that is full of leadership insights, highlights of our ongoing programs, as well as features on the impact our amazing faculty, students and alumni are making every day."                                                                                                  

Click here for eZine

Resource on Non-Traditional Students

You can download Insidehighered's "Educating Nontraditional Students", a free compilation of articles about strategies for recruiting, retaining and graduating non-traditional students. 


Click here to download articles.




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