As part of a comprehensive effort to improve workplace safety, University officials are implementing emergency communication in basement areas and expanding employee background checks, University President Richard Levin wrote in an e-mail to faculty and staff Wednesday.
Although Yale officials believe their public safety program is “robust,” many workers have expressed concerns about security on campus after the murder of Annie Le GRD ’13, Levin wrote. The extra security measures he announced in the e-mail — including the expansion of late-night escort services — will help to assuage the workers’ concerns, he added.
“Any incident like this horrible tragedy makes us want to review our systems and see if there are any areas of improvement,” University Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer said in an interview Wednesday.
Both Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Michael Peel and Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith, who oversees Yale security, will be in charge of reviewing and amending campus safety policies in the upcoming months, Levin wrote. Peel could not immediately be reached for comment Wednesday night.
The e-mail comes less than a week after Yale officials announced a workplace safety campaign in the University’s human resources newsletter. Full details of the campaign have yet to be determined, but Yale officials have been soliciting ideas for improvements.
Two weeks ago, New Haven police arrested Raymond Clark III, an animal lab technician, for the murder of Le — a 24-year-old doctoral student — at her workplace, a Yale research facility at 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 said that although 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 also called the homicide 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.”
Despite the murder, Yale officials emphasized that their safety program has been expanding over the last decade. Levin wrote in the letter that nearly 400 emergency blue phones have been installed so far and that a “sizeable” Yale police force, numbering over 100 officers, is employed to protect the campus.
“As a result of these investments, we have confidence in the safety of Yale’s campus,” he added.
Still, Levin wrote that he will be reviewing employee recommendations in coming weeks. And he added that managers will now be trained in workplace violence prevention and that Yale’s campus violence policy has been updated.
A link to the public safety policy, which states the University’s zero-tolerance policy for violent and threatening behavior, was posted on the University’s human resources Web site early last month. Director of Human Resources and Administration Communications Hellen Hom said in an interview earlier this week that Yale officials wanted to remind workers that the long-standing policy exists.
As the weeks continue, Yale officials added, they will continue to inform the community about updates to the public safety on campus.
“I am deeply appreciative of the way the Yale community has pulled together through this time,” Levin wrote.