NHPD, Yale police out in force after WTC blast

New Haven and Yale police were out in force throughout the city, and New Haven’s Emergency Operations Center was fully manned following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington Tuesday morning.

New Haven Police Chief Melvin H. Wearing ordered the NHPD’s evening shift to report to duty around 11 a.m. The entire shift was mobilized by noon, along with some off-duty personnel.

Officers were deployed to key positions throughout the city, including major intersections, city buildings and monuments like City Hall, Union Station, the New Haven Coliseum, the Robert N. Giaimo Federal Building and the top of East Rock. Officers mounted on horseback patrolled near City Hall and the federal building, and heavily armed guards in flak jackets were reported to be guarding the FBI building on Orange Street.

“They’re there predominately to reassure the public that we’ve taken practical measures to address safety concerns,” Captain Francisco Ortiz said. “They’re also a deterrent because we’re aware that there are potential targets in the city.”

Law enforcement officials were on guard after Tuesday’s horrific attack as any suspicious looking package became a cause for alarm.

An FBI bomb squad swept a platform at Union Station Tuesday afternoon in response to reports of a suspicious package, which turned out to be a false alarm, witnesses said.

Moore said the EOC received several calls requesting the locations of bomb shelters in the city.

Ortiz said police had no information of any specific threats to New Haven, a sentiment echoed by Yale President Richard Levin in an message e-mailed to students Tuesday.

“The FBI and the Secret Service have informed us that there is no reason to think that Yale or New Haven are the subjects of special danger at this time,” Levin wrote.

White House press secretary Ari Fleisher said Barbara Bush ’04 had been moved to a secure location.

“She has a group of folks concerned about her safety,” Deputy University Secretary Martha Highsmith said. “We’re focused on all the students.”

Yale police patrolled throughout campus, keeping watch over University buildings.

Yale Police Chief James Perrotti did not return phone calls requesting information about the department’s exact actions following the attack.

Jim Moore, deputy director of emergency management for the city, said public health and safety officials reported to the EOC almost immediately after receiving word of the crashes in New York Tuesday morning. Representatives of the New Haven and Yale police departments, both city hospitals and the New Haven Fire Department manned their posts from the center, located in the basement of the city office building at 200 Orange St.

The center was a scene of relative calm, with few calls coming in from citizens and coordination efforts proceeding on track.

The 20 or so police, fire and emergency personnel stationed there alternated between speaking quietly among themselves and on the phone, and watching two television screens as reports of the disaster poured in across major networks.

Ortiz said there were already police officers throughout the city before the attacks because of the scheduled mayoral primary and the recent opening of New Haven schools.

The NHPD’s day shift lasted until approximately 8 p.m., at least five hours longer than those officers usually work.

NHPD officers will be working with the Yale Child Study Center to coordinate counseling efforts that will take place in city schools in the coming days.

Staff Reporter James Collins contributed to this report.

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