City Hall memo: Aldermen hope to increase safety in wake of murder

With the media frenzy over the murder of Annie Le GRD ’13, some aldermen are calling for long-term changes in city safety.

Ward 23 Alderman Yusuf Shah said yesterday that he and Ward 21 Alderwoman Katrina Jones plan to introduce a piece of legislation to the board in response to Le’s death that will address the problems of crime and public safety that contributed to her tragedy and that continue to the plague the city. Given that news of Le’s murder, which is still under investigation, has reached national prominence, Shah said it is the perfect time to take a hard look at the reasons underlying New Haven’s crime rates.

“There needs to be more communication, not about what Yale can do to beef up security, and not about what police can do to beef up security, but what we can all do collectively to make sure these kinds of things don’t continue to happen in New Haven, period,” Shah said.

For Ward 6 Alderwoman Dolores Colon, tension due to the recent murder, which fell within her ward, should catalyze a common deduction: Crime in New Haven deserves more attention.

“Yes, the killing of Annie Le occurred in my ward. And you know what? Around the corner, a person was mugged last week, and two different men were shot and killed around here before that,” Colon said. “Why do we have media just because it’s a Yale student killed? Where was the media frenzy in all those other situations?” Colon added that she was not trying to be callous, and wished the best to Le’s family.

But other city officials, including Ward 13 Alderman and Public Safety Committee chairman Alex Rhodeen, contended that because Le’s murder occurred on private, not public, property, there is not much that can be achieved via the Board of Aldermen.

“I’m just not sure what kind of legislation on the local level would have an impact on this particular case, or cases like these,” Rhodeen said, though he said he would be happy to read any upcoming resolutions regarding public safety.

Ward 7 Alderwoman Frances “Bitsie” Clark agreed, saying that though she understands the impulse to portray Le’s murder within the greater context of public safety in the city, it is important to remember that there is a significant difference between crimes that occur on the streets of New Haven and a seemingly one-off homicide in a Yale lab. The causes of those two types of crime are starkly different, she said.

Clark said she suspected Shah’s proposed legislation might actually backfire if it brings more negative attention to the city or furthers the conception that New Haven is significantly more dangerous than other cities.

But the major challenge to drafting an aldermanic resolution in response to Le’s death, Shah said, is that he does not know exactly what that legislative proposal should include. And that is where Yale students and administrators need to step in and explain to the Board of Aldermen what needs to happen on the level of municipal government to ensure that nothing like Le’s murder ever happens again.

“None of us [on the Board of Aldermen] really knew her, but we do know the culture in this city around crime and subversive activity,” Shah said.

Shah said he hopes the flurry of press surrounding Le’s murder will bring more funding to the New Haven Police Department, enabling the organization to train and employ more officers and maintain a higher police presence in the city. Additionally, Shah said he also believes now is the right time to call for “a consistent federal presence” in New Haven; the city needs outside help to ascertain why there is more violent crime in New Haven than in other cities of comparable size.

When asked if she thought Le’s death would incite increased financial support to the NHPD, Colon said she was less optimistic. She predicted that the only funding increase from the state government to public safety in New Haven will go toward forensics in an effort to solve cold cases reminiscent of Annie Le’s murder, such as the killing of Suzanne Jovin ’99.


  • Yale GSAS

    Without demeaning the tragic death of Annie Le, Dolores Colon is absolutely right. There are many terrible things that go on within this city with little to no media attention. As it seems now, Le’s death would not have been prevented by any possible security increase. New Haven’s problems are predominately drug and gang related, and every shooting and murder is under publicized. These “private” crimes cannot really be prevented, and it is not Yale or City Hall’s responsibility. The quality of life issues in New Haven, are, however, both of their responsibilities. As Jovin’s parents espoused to Rell, the least we can hope for is that the CT state crime lab gets its act together.

  • NYC resident

    The best and only way to improve safety, as well as perception of it, is to increase the number of “eyes on the street”. This is done by making streets comfortable, clean and safe to walk along. Many streets in new haven are simply unpleasant, with long crossing distances, speeding and texting drivers, no crosswalks where they are needed, eg elm street, poor lighting, no bike lanes, potholes, etc. Unfortunately the university and the city both don’t seem to invest a dime in the local infrastructure, compared to how much is spent on policing. It is a classic case of spending money on reaction rather than prevention.

    MAke the city pleasant to walk around and simply be in, using traffic calming and more attention to basic maintenance, and crime will plummet. It is true in NYC and true everywhere else. As a side benefit youll also reduce traffic deaths, which are more frequent than homicides.

  • yalemom’13

    I agree with NYC resident. While I was at New Haven moving my son in, I could not believe the speed in which cars traveled. I think I am more worried about my son or anyone else getting run over than being tageted for crime. The city, the school, and the state should take a good hard look at traffic improvements(speed bumps, increase citations, etc.).

  • Ella

    Enforcement officers are lazy. Nothing is going to change.

  • student

    agree w/ yale mom. there are posters on campus about the number of yale students seriously injured or killed arund the campus just in the past 2 yrs. it is not publicized. it is a VERY VERY VERY long list.

  • A Polite Driver

    You can drive under the speed limit and with the utmost caution, but Yalies will continue to wander out into Elm street with earbuds in during the day, or intoxicated at night, with nary a glance toward traffic. There’s a crosswalk every 50 yards on Elm Street, but who on campus is willing to go so far beneath themselves as to walk to said crosswalks, when you can just run out in traffic with prattling away on your cell phone? I’ve watched a Yalie on crutches jaywalk across Elm at dusk wearing dark clothing. There are plenty of texting bikers and pedestrians in addition to the bad drivers. Improving street safety requires diligence and courtesy from drivers, bikers, AND pedestrians.

    The new urban hippies who want to believe removing cars from downtown will make it safer are sadly mistaken. The undergrads largely stick to their residential colleges for dining and do not make up the bulk of the patrons for theater downtown. Keep the cars away from downtown and the streets AND sidewalks will be deserted.

  • student

    “asking” for diligence and courtesy will do nothing to prevent more deaths.

    yale needs to design the streets so that people can have the ability to respect one another as they go about their business. people won’t do it on their own. if the road looks like a highway, as every street in downtown currently does, it will be driven like one.

    also, i don’t know of anyone who wants to remove cars from downtown. just like your statements about bikes and pedestrians (who unlike drivers, do not kill other people on a daily basis), you’re exaggerating to make your point.

    i’m glad you drive under the speed limit – it’s a good idea, because the speed limits are set far too high. if you drive at more than 20 within a pedestrian-rich environment, regardless of what the speed limit is posted at, you are bound to get blood on your hands.

  • Yale ’10

    Dolores Colon is a useless Alderwoman; it’s a shame that she used this incident as a vehicle to exacerbate class tensions. You’ve got an Alderwoman who is notorious for being completely silent at meetings and in committee, and the only time she breaks her silence is to basically play to the worst part of town-gown strain. I’ve got news for her: people in New Haven don’t really take offense to the media frenzy.

    Anyway, I think Alex Rhodeen makes a good point as he usually does, but ultimately it makes sense for Alders Jones and Shah to take this as an opportunity to beef up crime prevention–there will be strong public support for it, and lord knows Wards 21 and 23 could always use more crime prevention. Maybe now the city will finally curb its payments to those commies at the Greater New Haven Peace Coalition and put the money to use productively.

  • TuoAntigelo

    When is the switch to Google going to take place? Also, I heard that it is hard to integrate the PBX to your email environment once the switch is made. Is that the case?