Following commission hearing, YPD subject to FOIA requests

After a unanimous vote Wednesday by the Freedom of Information Commission, the Yale Police Department will now be subject to the same rules as public police forces when it comes to releasing records hitherto sealed.

As a result of the ruling — pursued by Public Defender Janet Perrotti, a cousin of YPD Chief James Perrotti — YPD documents and other information will now be open to public scrutiny upon request.

“One shouldn’t be able to dress like a cop, act like a cop and not be considered a cop and held accountable,” Janet Perrotti told the commission Wednesday, according to the New Haven Register.

The push to subject records to Freedom of Information Act requests came after an incident last May in which YPD officers arrested a now-16-year-old black teenager for breach of peace. Janet Perrotti has since argued that the move marked a double standard in that police are unlikely to ever arrest a Yale student in an otherwise similar situation. But when she requested documents relating to the arrest, Yale denied her the information.

YPD attorney Aaron Bayer of Wiggin and Dana seized on this origin before the Commission, arguing that the ruling should be restricted to that one situation rather than all incidents and records, both past and present.

“This is a very broadly written final conclusion,” he said, according to the Register.

In December, University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith said she thinks the YPD is a “private law enforcement agency.”

“We draw our powers through the city of New Haven, and we work with the Police Commission on some things,” she said, “but basically we’re a private entity, whereas the New Haven Police Department is a public entity.”

Bayer said he did not know yet whether Yale will appeal the decision, which came less than two months after the head of the Commission recommended it subject the YPD to FOIA.

For further updates, return to yaledailynews.com throughout the day.

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