Police unions clash over turf

The union representing city police officers has filed a complaint with the state labor board, claiming Yale Police are overstepping their beat boundaries by upping patrols of the Dwight neighborhood in the wake of the shooting of a student.

University Police Chief James Perrotti asked his officers to include the Dwight neighborhood in their patrols whenever they are nearby, said Ward 2 Alderwoman Joyce Chen ’03 — who represents the Dwight neighborhood and has met with Perrotti about the issue. But the New Haven Police Department Local 503 has protested the increased presence, concerned that it will lower the perceived need for city police in the area.

“Yale has jurisdiction there, but they’re a campus police department,” NHPD union president Sgt. Louis Cavalier said. “We’re claiming that they’re doing our work.”

The increased patrols come after Theodore DeLong DRA ’07 was shot in the hand in an attempted robbery early on Aug. 28 near the intersection of Dwight and Elm streets. While NHPD officers responded to the incident, the involvement of a Yale student in such a serious crime, Chen said, caused an increase in YPD patrols in the area.

Perrotti did not return calls for comment.

This labor dispute is not exactly new — the conflict has come and gone over the past decade, said Chris Morganti, the spokesman for the Yale Police Benevolent Association, which represents University Police officers. It resurfaced at the last labor hearing Monday, due to the apparent current rise in crime, he said.

“The New Haven Police union’s issue is what is theirs and what is ours,” Morganti said. “Our overall goal is the same — to keep people safe — but there is a discrepancy over jurisdiction. You can’t make steadfast rules because crime does not follow rules.”

Cavalier said the increased YPD presence in Ward 2 is understandable in light of recent violence in the area.

“They’re only following the orders of command staff,” Cavalier said. “They were told to be proactive. I can’t fault the officers for doing that.”

Cavalier said the conflict is purely a labor dispute over the issue of YPD officers responding to crimes in the Ward 2 area. His union, he said, is currently involved in meetings with Perrotti and members of the YPBA to resolve the issue. There is no hostility between the two departments, he said.

The YPD has jurisdiction throughout the city, YPD Lt. Michael Patten said, but only patrols as far as Howe Street. This means that while YPD officers can respond to crimes on Yale-owned property that is technically off-campus, it is not their job to deal with crime on city property, even if it is only a few feet away from Yale property. Most of Yale campus is in Ward 1, but the Dwight Street neighborhood is home to many students.

Patten said the beat boundaries for the two departments have been established for many years. The YPD, he said, does work with the district manager in the area of Dwight and Kensington streets to address problems in that area.

“There are fuzzy areas,” Morganti said. “Certain crimes occur on parts of streets that are not Yale property, but the Yale Police Department has authority throughout the city.”

Both departments emphasized that while the labor dispute is important, the real issue at hand is crime in the Ward 2 area.

“No one will just not respond to a crime, especially with the rise in crime this school year,” Morganti said. “But [the labor complaint] is self-serving — New Haven officers don’t want to lose job security.”

Morganti insisted, however, that the conflict has not interfered with the control of crime in the area. Cavalier said that YPD officers should respond to any incident they see. But, he said, if the incident is outside of their patrol area, their dispatch is supposed to call NHPD so they can respond.

Some students said that there is inadequate policing at night on streets including Dwight and Edgewood Avenue.

“There’s adequate police protection during the day, and I often see a police car on our street during the daytime, but I’m frustrated that come nightfall, the police cars are nowhere to be seen,” Ben Siegel ’07 said.

A number of students said they would welcome more policing in Ward 2. Chen said Yale security services, including 2-WALK, extend all the way to Orchard Street. Some students, however, said that these services do not provide enough protection.

Chen said Dwight Street also has a program called Dwight Block Watch, which requires landlords to add lighting on their porches if they do not currently have it.

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