Annex location raises concerns

Though recent muggings have heightened some residents’ concerns about the safety of the area surrounding Davenport’s Harrison Court annex at 210 Park St., University officials said they do not expect to make further changes to the enhanced safety measures put in place last year.

Yale Police Department Lt. Michael Patten and University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith said they think the increased security measures instituted last year are sufficient for the 21 juniors currently housed in the annex, located behind Davenport between Chapel and Howe streets.

Last April, a suspect was arrested for mugging a Yale student who was walking around the Harrison Court area. But none of the students interviewed said they had either heard of or been the victim of any criminal activity this year.

“I haven’t seen any crime here,” said Samuel Chua ’08, who lives at Harrison Court. “There was some concern from the people who lived here last year, but that was way before I moved in. A block out from campus isn’t the safest place.”

Students living at Harrison Court this year expressed differing views over the safety of the area.

Jessica Bian ’08 said she will invest in a personal insurance policy to cover the belongings she keeps in her purse in case she is mugged.

“I have that expectation more so here than if I was living on campus,” Bian said. “There’s a general assumption among the students that they’ll increase the security patrols in general.”

But Patten said no additional security measures have been taken this year beyond the increased security — such as walking patrols and additional lighting installed in certain areas — the University instituted after a rash of crime in the area last fall. He said the YPD maintains several walking beats through the area.

“We have added additional security features to the building that students would be accustomed to finding at their residential colleges,” Highsmith said.

In particular, Highsmith said, windows on the first floor have had protective screens installed, and a card reader was placed in the door to restrict access to Yale students.

Caitlin O’Brien ’08, another student living in the annex, said a member of the University security team was assigned specifically to monitor activity around Harrison Court.

“He’s done a really good job of keeping it safe,” she said.

O’Brien said she has never felt unsafe since she moved into the annex and that she considers other students’ fears overblown.

“There’s a fire escape, but it’s got iron bars on it and no one has ever tried to come through,” she said.

Highsmith said the University was considering installing blue phones, which connect directly to the police department, in the area. Blue phones may be placed only on Yale property.

“The University is constantly reassessing where we need to be placing blue phones, so it is a possibility,” she said.

Bian said she was not afraid of any violent crime, but that she was nervous about theft.

“It’s not an extreme lack of safety,” she said.

O’Brien said she thinks all Yale students should be cautious and watch out for themselves, whether they live closer or farther away from central campus.

“This is New Haven,” she said. “You just have to be smart.”

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