New guards assigned to courtyards

It may have happened quietly, but Yalies returned last weekend to a campus under the protection of a beefed-up security detail.

A Yale Security program begun Jan. 7 designated six permanent security officers to patrol courtyards daily between 4 p.m. and 12 a.m. in order to establish a more concrete presence within the residential colleges. Students interviewed were mostly unaware of the new officers’ presence, which University and residential-college administrators say is a response to a spate of burglaries and trespassing reported by students in the fall.

“We looked at a way to increase coverage inside the courtyard,” explained University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith, “and we’ve been able to do that by redeploying some of our resources,”

She added, “I think it’s been perceived as a helpful addition.”

There were 140 incidents of theft or burglary and nine incidents of attempted theft or burglary reported to the Yale Police Department last semester, although not all of these incidents occurred in residential colleges, according to YPD crime logs. According to the 2006 Yale University Report on Campus Security, there were 99 reported burglaries and thefts, 52 of which took place in residence halls, in 2006.

Six security guards will be assigned to a pair of colleges each: Berkeley and Calhoun, Trumbull and Saybrook, Davenport and Pierson, Morse and Ezra Stiles, Silliman and Timothy Dwight, and Branford and — following the completion of its renovations this year — Jonathan Edwards. The new policy is an extension of Yale’s community policing initiative and is designed to make the stationed officers an integrated part of the residential-college communities, Highsmith said.

The officers will be responsible, among other things, for ensuring that doors remain closed and secure, checking whether blue phones operate properly and helping students who are locked out of their rooms. Highsmith said the role of the new security officers is not to police parties or drinking in the dormitories but to watch out for students’ safety.

Two Yale Security officers stationed at the colleges declined to speak to the News about their roles and duties; the officers said commenting would detract from their ability to do their jobs.

The Yale Security office pitched the idea for the new officers to the Council of Masters’ Services Committee, which was “very much in favor” of adding officers who would build relationships with the colleges’ students and staff, Council Chair Judith Krauss said.

Calhoun College Master Jonathan Holloway said he has not met the officer in charge of Calhoun but is supportive of the new initiative.

“The fact is that incidents can happen — anytime, anywhere,” he said. “Just having someone around who’s going to check on doors and walk through the college is going to be a big help.”

The security officers plan to meet with residential-college administrators next week, Krauss said.

Berkeley resident Kiet Lam ’10, who has met the security officer responsible for his college, said he thinks the new presence will be reassuring to students. He does not find the presence too intrusive, he said.

“I think it’s actually a good idea, because that way if you’re locked out you don’t have to wait four hours to have someone come,” Lam said.

Other students were uncertain what impact the newly stationed officers would have, explaining that they have not seen the officers patrolling their colleges.

The YPD and Yale Security increased their presence in Silliman, TD, Morse, Berkeley and Davenport last semester receiving numerous reports of theft from students in those colleges.

YPD spokesman Sgt. Steven Woznyk said burglaries and thefts from the colleges were not a problem over winter break, with few incidents being reported to the police.


  • Anonymous

    The courtyards are already 99% safe because of the locked gates. What about some extra safety for those of us (grad students) forced to walk home on the dark, empty streets at night? We can't even walk through the (absurdly safe) courtyards on our way home because our Yale IDs won't open those gates. I know there's the minibus - but that would be annoying calling them every night!

  • Anonymous

    The increased security is good to see given that the world will be going into a major recession over the next couple of years (which typically leads to an uptick in crime).

    I also agree with the above. However, if the University is really committed to students' security, it would work to calm traffic in the general downtown area and also discourage students from driving (a downtown grocery store would help to that effect). Students are many times more likely to be injured or killed through traffic accidents than through crime.

  • Anonymous

    The fact that undergrads let almost anyone through the college gates (and leave many of their entryways/doors open) is the reason for this nominal security increase. Unfortunately, a few people ruined undergraduates' feelings of safety within their colleges -- like the grad student who was caught peeping at Morse girls in their shower.

    Really? It's "annoying" to dial a number and wait five minutes for the bus every night? No more annoying than the assertion that Yale Police should be responsible for the streets of New Haven.

  • Anonymous

    Well, I personally feel kind of like a dork calling to minibus to drive me 4 blocks through what is arguably the safest part of town. Then again, walking said four blocks in the middle of the night is frequently rather scary and I do this call the minibus sometimes.

  • Anonymous

    This is quite an adjustment of attitude since the early 1990s. After a more serious crime wave (one which involved a murder in 1991), we asked President Benno Schmidt about assigning security to the colleges. His response: it wouldn't be wise because the guards would be sitting ducks. A classmate's response: "President Schmidt, if they would be sitting ducks, what are we?"

  • Anonymous

    I hope they hired Gelded Security gents.
    it's only a matter of time before they lose it..Have background checks been performed on the new security officers?
    You end up asking a relative of theirs and you get a wink and a nod from them.

  • Anonymous

    4 pm to midnight seems like a kind of silly group of hours to have security guards. Is Yale really worried about dinner time crimes over things that could happen at, say, 2 or 3 in the morning?

  • Anonymous

    Personally, I'd feel like a huge tool if I refused to let someone else into my res college if they asked.

    Exception if I see them giggling maniacally with an empty burlap bag labeled "LOOT" in their hands.

  • Anonymous

    During Holiday breaks has always been a grab bag for crooks..twice i've seen Yale employees loading a car with aforementioned sack of booty, call Yale PD til i turned blue in the face but the fear of who these criminals actually are made them drive to Lulu's coffee house .
    another thought it meant a trip to Alder Chen's house first