In late April, University Police will break ground on an expanded new police station on an empty Ashmun Street lot behind Swing Space, said University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith, who oversees police and security on campus. The construction will continue an overhaul of the quality and location of the department’s facilities which began last year.
“[Police] had probably outgrown it before they even moved into it,” she said.
The Yale Police Department currently occupies a squat, peeling duplex at 98-100 Sachem Street, far off the beaten path of campus. The building, which University Police have called home for more than a decade, is cramped and lacks even some basic facilities, like adequate women’s bathrooms.
“We think our ability to communicate with the community will be enhanced,” University Police Chief James Perrotti said. “We’re looking forward to this building big time.”
The site of the new station will also house the Dixwell-Yale University Learning Center, a community center which will include a large meeting room for neighborhood groups, 16 computer stations, a kitchen, and storage space for athletic equipment for the city park across the street, University Associate Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand ’87 DIV ’93 said.
“It will be a very welcoming, bright facility that adds vibrancy to that block, which currently on that side of the street is quite dead,” Morand said.
Perrotti said he hopes student groups on campus will also use the new building as meeting space and said he was optimistic that the new station, which is closer to central campus, will encourage students to make better use of the police department.
The Yale police’s other facilities are also in the process of being replaced. In December, the police substation at 258 Park St. was closed to make way for the upcoming construction of the 30,000-square-foot St. Thomas More student center, Perrotti said. The substation was moved to the corner of College Street and Congress Avenue, near the Yale Medical School.
“We were able to clean up the building — and get in there in a timely fashion,” Perrotti said. “Our officers have all said its the most space we’ve had as a police department.”
Highsmith said she thought campus security would improve with the two main police locations placed in more accessible areas on opposite ends of campus.
The police communications center inside Phelps Gate will also be phased out with the creation of the new station, Perrotti said, and police already have downgraded their presence at the center.
The University’s economic woes, with officials predicting a $30 million budget deficit this fiscal year, led to efforts to make the new station more economical, but plans for the necessary facilities remained unchanged, Highsmith said. Perrotti said the building design will be simple and functional.
“We have worked very carefully with the architects to have as efficient a building as possible,” Highsmith said.