Yale to promote safety at work

Yale officials have resolved to launch a campaign to improve workplace safety in light of the murder of Annie Le GRD ’13 and this month’s arrest of a Yale retiree who brought weapons to campus.

Details of the campaign have yet to be determined, but through a blurb published Friday in Yale’s human resources newsletter, Yale officials began to solicit ideas from employees on how to improve campus safety. Director of Human Resources and Administration Communications Hellen Hom said the campaign aims to ensure that workplace safety remains a priority among all employees.

“It’s an unfortunate occurrence that both [incidents] happened in the same time frame,” she said Monday. “The combination of the two just brings to light the need for more awareness.”

Two weeks ago, New Haven police arrested Raymond Clark III, an animal lab technician, for the murder of Le at her workplace, 10 Amistad St.

At the time of Clark’s arrest, University President Richard Levin insisted that the crime was not the result of lackluster security: “This incident could have happened in any city, in any university, or in any workplace,” he said. Levin told the News that though Clark had worked at in the Yale laboratory since December 2004, there had been no indications in his history that a crime could have been expected.

New Haven Police Department Chief James Lewis similarly classified the homicide as an isolated incident: “This was not about New Haven crime, or University crime, or domestic crime,” Lewis said shortly after Clark was arrested. “This was workplace violence.”

That same week, Yale police officers arrested retired Yale employee John Petrini, for carrying a rifle and an 8.5-inch butcher knife to 155 Whitney Ave., the former home of the Human Resources Department.

Petrini, a physical plant employee who retired in 2002, filed a complaint with the University in 2008 because, he claimed, the University was not paying him the retirement benefits he deserved. Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Michael Peel said Petrini’s appeal was denied because, when Petrini left the University, he did not meet the minimum age requirement of 55 to be eligible for those benefits.

Although no further communication between the University and Petrini had occurred since the appeal was denied, officials said they believe Petrini’s actions were related to this dispute.

University officials have since embarked on a plan to publicize their zero-tolerance workplace violence policy to the Yale community. Yale officials in recent weeks posted a link to the policy, which is listed on Yale’s public safety Web site, on the Human Resources main page, Hom said.

“It’s a good reiteration for people who aren’t aware of the policy to be aware that there is [one],” Hom said. “This policy has been around for a long time.”

In an interview Sunday, Levin said he did not know the campaign’s specifics, but he added that employees now have a chance to make suggestions.

“We said around the time of the Annie Le murder that we would be looking for ways to enhance security, and this is part of that,” he said.

Both Peel and Deputy University Secretary Martha Highsmith, who oversees Yale security, did not respond to requests for comment left over the weekend and Monday.

Meanwhile, the federal government will help Yale in their safety efforts: Sen. Christopher Dodd announced Friday that Yale and Connecticut College will share a $643,000 grant to prevent violence against women on campus. In his announcement of the grant, Dodd mentioned the “recent tragedy on Yale’s campus,” adding that the funds were allocated to prevent violence both at home and in the workplace.

Yale officials also said in the human resources newsletter that they will announce more updates of the campaign in upcoming weeks.

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