Police respond to crime increase

In the aftermath of a recent spike in violent crime around campus, the Yale Police have gone on high alert.

A violent mugging behind Pierson College, a double shooting in Toad’s Place, and four more shootings on the north side of campus in March have prompted increased vigilance from the Yale Police Department, YPD Spokesman Lt. Steven Woznyk said. Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner, who oversees the YPD, is also making new recommendations to students to stay safe.

Following the shooting at Toad’s, YPD Chief Ronnell Higgins told the News that he would be expanding the number of officers patrolling at all times for the forseeable future. And after the mugging behind Pierson, Woznyk said the manpower on the streets and in patrol cars had officially been doubled.

Now, the YPD has indefinitely posted a patrol car on the corner of Elm and Park streets, facing the site of the mugging, Woznyk said. Another officer, he added, is stationed at the corner of the main thoroughfare of Broadway and York Street, facing the same block as Toad’s. So far, Woznyk said, the increased patrols have been popular.

“We have received positive feedback from the community regarding the increased presence,” he said. “As more people get out and about with the incoming warmer weather, it’s important for us to deploy resources and have a presence in areas and thoroughfares where there is an increase in pedestrian traffic in and around campus.”

But while the Yale community thinks of ways to secure itself from an increase in New Haven violence, the wider community is also noticing the upward crime trend.

“New Haven has definitely gotten more dangerous recently,” Evelyn Folson, a James Hillhouse High School student who lives on Winthrop Avenue in Dwight, told the News at a community policing dialogue last week. “There have been many more shootings near me lately.”

The same warm weather that has brought more people to Yale’s sidewalks has also increased targeted shootings, said Steven “Smokez” Echols, a New Haven resident and member of the local anti-crime group the Frontline Soldiers.

He said when local young men are no longer confined indoors, and in the absence of positive social programs, they “have nothing better to do than shoot people.”

Although there is little a pedestrian can do to avoid being near a targeted shooting, Lindner did suggest several ways that Yale students could be safer in New Haven. Yalies should avoid walking while listening to music, or texting while walking alone, she said.

Despite new security precautions, Lindner said, fewer students are taking the door-to-door shuttle service than the same time last year.

Lindner also recommended that pedestrians should take note of nearby Blue Phones while walking around campus. After a recent robbery, she said, the victim used a Blue Phone which allowed the police to respond immediately, and arrest the robber.

Keeping with the initiative to make the streets safer for Yale students, Woznyk said the primary focuses of the YPD have recently been quality-of-life issues and motor vehicle violations on campus.

As for the overall trend of crime at Yale, Lindner said that crime on campus saw a significant decrease between 2009 and 2010.

As a city, New Haven only saw a 1 percent decrease in overall crime, although the murder rate rose 85 percent.

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