Former New Haven Police Chief Francisco Ortiz has taken over operations at Yale Security as part of the organization’s recent restructuring, which has proven controversial.
Administrators approached Ortiz, who has been head of West Campus security since early 2008, about also running security for the entire University because he was no longer needed at the West Campus now that Yale’s investment there has slowed, said Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith, who oversees security matters.
Ortiz’s new position was not publicly announced when he took charge more than a month ago, Highsmith said, because it was part of an internal reorganization at Yale Security and was communicated within the organization. The University has been streamlining its security operations to save money, including 13 layoffs. Ortiz is currently looking to fill 11 new supervisory positions and has filled all four open patrol officer positions.
“We have complete confidence in Francisco Ortiz,” Highsmith said. Ortiz deferred comment to Highsmith.
While the University searches for people to replace the 13 laid-off workers, Ortiz has asked those same workers to stay on for another eight weeks. The four new patrol positions were filled by internal candidates, Highsmith said, and both internal and external candidates are being considered for the supervisory positions.
But two Yale Security officials said the shake-up is undervaluing the experience of current employees. Many NHPD officers are being seriously considered for the supervisory positions, rather than internal candidates, said the officials, who asked to remain anonymous to talk freely about their employer.
Administrators initially told the laid off employees they could apply for the new positions, but after the first round of interviews, administrators told all but two that they had not been rehired, a security official said.
The laid-off employees never received written notice telling them why they were not selected, a violation of Yale’s human resources policy, said one security official, who asked not to be named in order not to jeopardize job prospects. According to Yale’s human resources layoff policy, all employees must be given just cause and written notice of their termination. The official added that efforts to inform Security workers about the changes at town hall style meetings had largely fallen flat.
“The information was very general, impersonal and not at all informative,” the official said. “I truly believe everyone was in shock.”
Highsmith acknowledged that there was discontent with some employees but said critics are not fully aware of the facts. She said laid-off workers were told in person why they did not receive the new jobs and that the information sharing effort has been extensive.
“We’re trying to be sensitive,” she said. “We know there are difficulties for some people.”
Ortiz, who has moved to offices in Security’s headquarters on Howe Street, has many more responsibilities in his new position than he did at West Campus. The only crime ever reporter on West Campus was a stolen lunch.
Ortiz started his career in law enforcement as an NHPD patrol officer and, after 25 years, was appointed chief in 2003. He left that position in January 2008, six months after three narcotics officers were arrested and convicted in federal court on corruption charges. No official has ever stated that Ortiz had any knowledge of or part in the corruption scandal.
Correction: March 28, 2010
An earlier version of this article misrepresented when the only crime on West Campus (a stolen lunch) occurred. It was four or five years ago, not during Francisco Ortiz’s tenure as head of West Campus security.