Liquor violations up in ’08

The University’s annual report on campus security, released Wednesday, reveals a dramatic uptick in the number of liquor violations on campus and the continued prevalence of burglaries in 2007 compared to previous years.

In an interview Wednesday evening, Yale Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith attributed part of the rise in liquor violations to new standards put in place by the revised state liquor laws, which went into effect two years ago. And while the number of burglaries in 2007 remained high, Highsmith said new safety measures have put the campus on pace for a “significant decline” in burglaries this year.

The statistics report did not include the most storied campus criminal case in 2007 — the weapons-related charges of then-junior David Light — because the infraction occurred on property unaffiliated with the University, Highsmith said.

There were 33 liquor-related arrests made on campus, according to the report, compared to three in 2006 and zero in 2005. Despite the relatively high number, about 40 percent of those arrests were of non-Yale students, Highsmith said.

Still, there were 74 “disciplinary actions” or “judicial referrals” — in other words, cases in which students are sent to the Executive Committee, the University’s highest disciplinary body — compared to 46 in 2006 and 51 in 2005.

Highsmith said the increase was, at least in part, the result of of stricter state liquor laws, which were put in place in October of 2006; 2007 was the first full year in which the law was in place.

“It’s not a new emphasis on [the law],” Highsmith said. “It’s a different standard … and the police have to follow that.”

Even if a beverage is kept in a closed container on private property, it is illegal for a minor to be in possession of alcohol under the statute. It is also illegal for a person of legal drinking age to fail to halt possession of alcohol by a minor, an element of the law that residential college masters and deans have admitted makes their job more complicated.

“No person having possession of, or exercising dominion and control over, any dwelling unit or private property shall … knowingly permit any minor to possess alcoholic liquor,” the 2006 law reads.

There were 103 burglaries on campus in 2007, compared to 98 in 2006 and 63 in 2005, according to the report.

Highsmith said a large portion of those 2007 burglaries took place during the summer at programs that were not affiliated with the University. The problem of burglaries during the summer, as well as burglaries from residential halls, has been dramatically curbed so far in 2008, she added.

Yale Police Department spokesman Lt. Steven Woznyk told the News last month that vigilant policing and the increased presence of Yale Security helped curb summer crimes.

There were 65 instances of on-campus Part I crimes — which include violent crimes like robbery and assault but also property crimes like burglary and motor-vehicle theft — this June, July and August; last summer, there were 128.

A new Yale Security initiative, introduced in January of 2008, that stationed Yale Security officers in residential college courtyards late at night has also helped curb burglaries dramatically this year, Highsmith said.

Plus, she said, the problem may lie more with issues of complacency than a prevalence of criminals.

“Eighty-five percent of the burglaries [in 2007] were not forced,” Highsmith said. “They were because the doors were unlocked or left open.” There were seven drug arrests on campus this year. Highsmith said none of those arrests involved students.

During the summer of 2007, Yale junior David Light was arrested twice on weapons-related charges. Police issued a warrant for Light’s arrest when he allegedly fired a handgun into the ceiling of the common room at 36 Lynwood Place, the former Beta Theta Pi fraternity house.

The report includes, in a footnote at the bottom of the document, an admission that “a Yale undergraduate was arrested for weapons possession at an off-campus, private house.” Highsmith said that, because the incident took place on property that is not owned or controlled by the University, it did not have to be included in the report. But University officials decided to include the incident as a footnote because of its high-profile nature.

In addition to property that the University owns or controls, including rented property, Yale is also obligated to report crimes on immediately adjacent public property. An incident on College Street outside Phelps Hall, for instance, would have to be reported. An incident across the street on the New Haven Green would not.

The full campus security report, which can be found online, is released annually in accordance with federally mandated guidelines.

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