Amistad returns to normalcy

The Yale research facility at 10 Amistad St.
The Yale research facility at 10 Amistad St. Photo by Egidio DiBenedetto.

Every day, the people who work in the Yale research building at 10 Amistad St. pass the security guards now stationed on every street corner and at every point of entry to the building. They must also scan their Yale IDs to gain access at any time of day. They find the heightened security presence reassuring, but it is also a reminder of the tragedy that still hangs over the building.

Exactly four months after investigators found the body of Annie Le GRD ’13 in the basement of 10 Amistad St., feelings of fear and uneasiness for those working in the building have finally begun to subside, owing, at least in part, to these new security protocols. Six workers interviewed said that, immediately after law enforcement officials concluded their search and unsealed the Amistad building, it was strange to return to their daily lives knowing what had occurred in the same facility only days earlier. At the same time, interviews with 25 people at the building suggest that increased security measures and an examination of workplace policies has increased communication among the building’s departments and helped employees to regain a sense of normalcy.

“For about a month after it happened, it was a really bizarre feeling coming [to the Amistad building] every day,” said Xing Chang, a post-doctoral associate in immunobiology.

Upon returning to the building, employees of the research facility encountered a variety of increased security precautions. Before Le’s murder, employees and students needed Yale ID cards to gain access to the building only after business hours. Now, they must scan them at all times of day. Security officers guard the corners of nearby intersections, the main entrance of the building, and the entry and exit to the adjoining parking garage.

The changes to the Amistad building’s security came as a result of suggestions and requests from employees working there and resemble systems already in place in other buildings around the medical school campus, said University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith, who oversees campus security.

“There are many buildings in the medical area that require card key access all the time, and have for quite a while,” she said in an e-mail. “The staff who work in Amistad felt that would be a helpful measure to take there, as well.”

But the increased security measures do not come at the cost of slowing or interfering with the four medical research departments inside of the Amistad building, said Haifan Lin, the director of Yale Stem Cell Research. If anything, it has helped to unite the building’s occupants.

“Yale Security has done a great job making everyone who works here feel safe and normal again,” Lin said.

University spokesman Tom Conroy said new building-wide meetings have helped to integrate the Animal Resource Center, located in the basement of the Amistad building, with the other three research departments that operate above ground. Representatives of YARC now participate in interdepartmental meetings in which they previously were not represented.

In addition, the administration has implemented a number of new measures to ensure a safe working environment not only at the Amistad building and medical school campus, but all across the University. Shuttles now run more frequently, new employees undergo more thorough background checks, and administrators have updated Yale’s official policy on workplace violence.

According to employees interviewed, all of these steps have helped to minimize damage to the working environment inside of 10 Amistad St. and keep people comfortable going about their day-to-day tasks.

One employee — who asked to remain anonymous because he was once friendly with Raymond Clark III, the lab technician accused of Le’s murder — said people do not fear working there because it was a “freak incident” that does not indicate any larger security problem.

But beyond the benefits gained from an examination of campus security measures, Lin said the community of people who work at 10 Amistad St. has learned important lessons.

“The bottom line is that what happened in September only makes us cherish all the more that which we have together,” he said.

Comments

  • Moish G

    The irony is, of course, that Annie Le’s murder would have happened with ‘security protocols’ in place or not. Her murder wasn’t the result of lax building security, but the result of a psychotic stalker. No amount of ID-swiping will deter a psycho intent on murder.

  • Yikes

    I understand the limits of headline space, but there’s too much nuance in this story to reduce it to “Coworkers totally over Annie Le.”

  • should have asked everyone

    Dr. Lin is a good man, and has shown concern for everyone involved throughout this. We are all grateful to have him as one of our faculty. This is true of almost everyone who works in that building, faculty members especially, who have gone out of their way to see that we are safe and can get someday to something normal.

    What the article says is party true. Almost everyone is acting normally again. What’s also true is that it is exhausting everyday to walk past those guards, to go down in that basement, to be alone in a room with someone even and be reminded. Things like that only get better on certain days. A key point here is though that everything is not going BACK to normal, we just have to begin to realize a new normal.

    They should ask the people that knew her in the building, see if they are “normal” again under these new circumstances. My guess is no.

  • joey

    ” The building is secure” – now. More secure for anybody in particular ? Or everybody ? We hope for everyone and employees. Run over to Science Park quickly as there seems to be a strange insecurity related to security.

  • y11

    Joey, GO AWAY. You’ve been posting inane, hovering comments regarding security and conspiracy theories since day 1 of this case. Time to stop rubbernecking and go back to your life.

  • sigh

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Yale say this building was already maximum security before this happened? I am glad they have increased security measures there. I am not happy that it took someone being murdered to do this…

  • joe ee

    Not since day one Y11.. It was just a missing persons case ( bride fright stuff) definitely posted by day 5, day 4 i was at the new haven register. Still i don’t believe i’m the only joey/joe on this “news” site. And darling , never a conspiracy theory on my part ,just truthful,thoughtful,benificial postings.

    Aaand boy did i hit a nerve..

    p.s. Watching police/security/inhospitable officers turn their eye from double parked cars in front of Science Park, tripping over themselves while running from car break-ins in the vicinity. A vain attempt at making S.P. unsecure ? What next, paying city hall druggies to invade the premises , we have seen that before.

  • sigh, indeed

    I really dont appreciate this article being published. im so glad that Yale feels the need to once again pat itself on the back about what a good job they are doing. They’re wrong. It’s not because of them that we are continuing with our lives, sorry to break it to you. We must go on because that is life. Trust me, I am not happy with it, and these security measures change NOTHING for me. So, no, Yale you did not make me feel all warm and tingly inside by giving me some fat guy standing on the corner at night.

    I want Annie back. THAT will make me feel better. Unfortunately, that’s not how life goes, so instead, I must go to work everyday like its normal or something. Too bad for me.

    Where is THAT opinion written in this article?? hmmmm?? i agree with a previous poster that they should have gotten the friends’ opinions about how normal THEY feel. and if these security measures change anything for them, while everyone else walks around completely forgetting what happened there like it was nothing.

  • sigh2

    How can you increase security beyond maximum? You can’t. Either they’ve increased nothing or it wasn’t maximum security beforehand.

  • joey(accept no subst)

    I saw a funny cartoon in the N.Y.Post once. A Delonas political satire special.
    A table with John Kerry, and every person at the table was a dead ringer,long jaw,hair, well the two ladies had the faccia but different hairstyle.
    Reminds me of the security folk at Science Park -
    Hey anyone tell you that u look exactly like the Lady Atty. from the Dow etc.law firm ? Oh same last name too. What are you wearing masks in the sincerest form of flattery to yales’ powers that please ?
    Extensions of these lecturing lounging lawyers of an unsustainable market.

  • Still Not Fixed

    While some significant improvements have been made in terms of instituting the security systems already installed, no additional security has been installed within the internal facilities in which this tragedy occurred. These areas of the building have no cell phone reception, no emergency call buttons, few phones, and little visibility into and out of rooms. It was already a very “secure” area where card swipe access was required repeatedly, and the additional building entrance security is obviously not a complete solution.

  • Med10

    Me thinks Joey needs a little YPI time. That being said, what security has really been increased in Amistad? Same doors, same cameras and same security. Nothing new here folks. A little extra security until the fear died down, now you don’t see it anymore on the Med campus. Heck, Yale’s laying off all the security management. Maybe Joey’s a bitter manager for all we know.

  • no phone!

    Three cheers for group cohesiveness however I prefer having phone services installed at the former crime scene. What kind of modern, secured facility lacks phone service? Let’s get real.

  • Elm City

    What kind of modern, secured facility lacks phone service?
    In a word, prison.
    Quite a few med school buildings have terrible cell phone service due to the amount of concrete, electronics and other structural conditions. Best we can hope for is expanded land line service.

  • no phone!

    What will it take to frighten people enough to demand engineered phone services for all the dead areas of their buildings?