What began as a routine check for parking violations behind Pierson College on Wednesday evening concluded in the arrest of a Yale Dining Services cook on seven charges, including narcotics possession and criminal mischief.
After resisting arrest — he allegedly refused to surrender to police after trying to drive his car off a tow truck hook — the cook was found with a crack pipe and prescription drugs under someone else’s name, New Haven Police Department Sgt. Mike Canning said.
Pierson students interviewed said they were alarmed by the allegations that the arrested cook brought illegal drugs into their dining hall’s kitchen.
Canning withheld the name of the suspect and directed further questions about the individual to the Pierson College kitchen superintendent, who declined to comment.
The saga began a few minutes after 5 p.m., when Canning said a tow truck operator on a routine patrol spotted a ticket on the cook’s car, which was parked behind the Pierson dining hall service entrance on Park Street. The operator checked the license plate and found that the driver owed $225 in overdue parking tickets, Canning said.
As the operator hitched the car to the tow truck, Canning said the cook ran out of the kitchen, jumped behind the wheel of his car and tried to drive it off the hook.
When at least six officers arrived in two cruisers and a prison conveyance van, he said, the cook resisted arrest by refusing to exit the car. The officers then handcuffed him and found the crack pipe and prescription narcotics.
The cook now faces charges of breach of peace, interference with police, possession of a controlled substance, possession of drug paraphernalia, criminal mischief in the second degree, failure to carry prescription medication in a proper container and operating a vehicle under a suspended license, officers at the scene said.
“It’s unfortunate that this happened — it’s unfortunate that he’s a cook here and especially that he has a crack pipe on him,” Canning said. “Think about what you’re going to eat tonight.”
Ernst Huff, associate vice-president of student financial and administrative services, declined to comment on Thursday’s incident, but he said the cook may not have been subject to a background check if he was hired more than a year ago.
Although Yale began running background checks on new hires less than a year ago, he said, existing employees were not subject to the added scrutiny — and the University does not administer employee drug tests.
Students eating dinner in the Pierson dining hall Wednesday said they were unaware of the arrest. When told about the incident, Pierson students said they were surprised and concerned that a cook would bring a crack pipe into the kitchen.
“It’s worrisome that they’re the ones in charge of food and they’re in possession of drug paraphernalia,” Ian Marpuri ’11 said.
While all students interviewed said they were shocked by the incident, their responses diverged on whether employee drug testing is in order.
Pierson student Alfonso Costa ’11 said he was troubled by the arrest, but he does not think implementing drug screenings would be a proper response.
“They shouldn’t go that far,” he said. “But they should know who they’re hiring.”
But Pierson resident Caitlin Bray ’09 said she thinks the University should administer drug tests to all employees as part of standard procedure.
“[A dining hall cook is] a high-paying job, and Yale values student security, and it’s important for any job,” Bray said.
University Spokesman Tom Conroy could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.