The Georgetown Heckler

News | December 3, 2015

University Announces Purchase of SNAP Rapid-Response Helicopter  


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HEALY HALL — In response to growing neighborhood concerns about Student Neighborhood Assistance Program (SNAP) incident response times, the university announced on Thursday that it had purchased a Boeing AH-64E Apache helicopter for use by a highly trained team of SNAP administrators.

“Georgetown remains committed to holding up its end of the 2010 Campus Plan agreement, and the acquisition of our first turboshaft attack helicopter is just one small part of realizing these standards,” said Vice President for Government Relations and Community Engagement Chris Murphy (L’98).

Ron Lewis, Chairman of Georgetown’s Advisory Neighborhood Committee (ANC 2E), is hopeful that the Apache helicopter will help ease student-neighbor relations.

“Obviously, this news has been positively received in the neighborhood,” reported Lewis.  “Oftentimes when neighbors call the university helpline about a party next door they can find themselves waiting up to five minutes for SNAP to arrive.  This helicopter has the potential to cut this time nearly in half.”

Lewis recalled a particular incident in which a “problem house” was able to watch an entire quarter of Sunday Night Football at a normal volume before SNAP arrived to quiet the property.  “Believe me—with this helicopter in service, there’s no going back to the bad old days,” he remarked.

The $35.5 million helicopter itself — whose model is often referred to as “Guardian” by the United States Army and “The Monster” by the Taliban and party-hosting undergrads — is armed with a 30mm chain gun and a mixture of rocket and missile pods, and will serve as the principal means of transportation for SNAP’s new “rapid-response” team.  University officials confirmed that the team would not be deployed except in extreme circumstances, particularly at “gatherings with more than approximately 30 students congregating at one property.”

Students were less enthused, with some remarking that the cost of operating a helicopter between the hours of 10pm and 3am every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday seemed excessive. 

“The garbage disposal in my Henle still hasn’t been fixed, and I put in the work request the day I moved in,” said Tom O’Malley (COL ’17).  “With military-grade aviation fuel costs as high as they currently are, I just don’t see how this is sustainable.”

Burleith resident Katie Richards (NHS ’16) shared these concerns, recalling a recent incident in which SNAP proactively airdropped into her backyard after informing her that noise was audible from 200 vertical feet above her property line.  “I just had about 10 friends over to celebrate being done with the MCAT, and then we started hearing the thumping of helicopter blades over our music.  It’s weird, we weren’t actually being that loud—I think my roommate might actually have been sleeping until they broke down the back door shouting at everyone to stop making noise,” reported Richards.

University administrators sought to clarify that on-campus social policies would be unaffected by the helicopter and increased SNAP operations.  University Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson indicated that “making sure students have a place to socialize safely inside the front gates is a key goal of ours, and the Apache’s presence on-campus would certainly negatively impact this effort,” adding that “in any case, GUPD’s new fleet of light-armored Humvees is more than capable of responding adequately to on-campus noise.” 

At press time, the Heckler has confirmed that the ANC will continue to pressure the university to begin talks with General Atomics regarding the potential acquisition of a fleet of Predator drones.