News’ View: Keep the students safe

For the seventh time in the last two months, Yalies have seen the streets they walk daily scarred with bullet holes. The story has grown grimly familiar: shots ringing out late on a weekend night, a stone’s throw from campus; frantic and confused texts from friends; yet another reason to stay in, to stay out of the city we would like to call home.

We cannot understate the importance of rapid, University-administered warnings after incidents like these. Unfortunately, in the hours that followed last September’s Crown Street shootings, the student body received no word — an email only came several days later. There was a similar silence in the aftermath of last month’s shootings at Toad’s, even closer to home.

Luckily, after this Saturday’s shooting, Yale used its emergency ALERT system to quickly send out warning texts to most of the student body. This is a step in the right direction. When violence strikes the peripheries of campus, quick messages keep us calm and safe.

But beyond responses, Yale must take a good look at what this mounting and unacceptable violence means for our community — and for our police. Arriving at Yale, students can and must be prepared for the realities of life in a city like New Haven, especially after sunset. We must walk these streets with vigilance, for they will not treat us differently than any other citizen. We must accept that downtown New Haven is a dangerous place, far more so than a Cambridge, Princeton, or Hanover. If the recent spate of shootings has taught us anything, it is that there are no safe streets at certain hours, no substituting blue-phones and minibuses for common caution. This is part of the price we pay for living in a dynamic urban center. There is no impenetrable shield against this city.

And yet, no New Havenite — Yalie or otherwise — should have to fear flying bullets on their Wenzel walk or trip to Toad’s. The Yale Police Department (YPD) has provided a valuable protective sphere over downtown, especially since Yale Security shouldered many of its non-policing duties in the early 1990’s. With the YPD relieved of tasks like walking escorts, locked doors and petty theft, the department has been able to focus on real police work.

Unfortunately, in the past few years, its mandate has somewhat shifted back. A crusade against underage drinking has reallocated YPD resources away from criminal investigations. Our police officers should not be standing outside of Broadway Liquor checking IDs when they could be investigating shootings such as this weekend’s.

We do not need a liquor squad. What we need is for the YPD to focus on what it has a proven track record of doing best: responding proactively to crime trends and investigating dangerous criminals. The YPD could also station its officers at violent hotspots in advance. And even if underage drinking is a legitimate New Haven policing issue, a better approach would be to target the liquor stores — not harassing students as they walk by.

In light of the recent violence, Yale will hear calls to aggressively ramp up its security: proposals like closed-circuit cameras across campus, as well as more officers with more weaponry. But in the end, real progress may come from better using the resources we already have.

We cannot turn Yale into a fortress. Such a project would be damaging, and in the end, futile. Violence will always creep through the cracks, and sadly, this will not be the last time shots are fired in our midst. But as we maintain our own vigilance, and as the university strives to keep us in the know, we hope that the YPD will refocus its mission. Its first job is not to keep students sober, but safe.

Comments

  • The Anti-Yale

    If we hadn’t already sold our souls to Global Positioning Devices (whether in our cell phones or vehicles) I would be the first one to oppose YaleDad14’s proposal (see original article on this shooting) that street camera’s be mounted on the streets adjacent to campus as a deterrent to criminals. ( Don’t tell me New Haven has jurisdiction and that matter is for them to decide. Yale can pull some strings.)

    Makes sense. We shouldn’t just be snooping on ourselves. Add criminals to the list of those whose privacy has been sold to the devil of technology.

  • vitalism

    hear hear!

  • Sara

    Traffic stops would do more to keep students safe than any other measure proposed here. In past years, many thousands of such stops were made per month. Traffic tickets net illegal guns, and enforce an overall aura of civility, leading to reduced violence.

    As a side benefit, they can reduce injuries caused by vehicles, which over the years, have killed and injured orders of magnitude more Yalies than guns have.

    Yet, in recent months, the number has dropped precipitously. Why is this? Are the Aldermen paying attention to public safety issues?

  • BrightSide2013

    Scarred with bullet holes? Grimly familiar? While I agree that New Haven needs to step it up, I think this article paints a picture that is more extreme than reality. New Haven isn’t a suburb. It’s not going to be as safe as Dartmouth or Cornell. I also question the statistic that says there have been seven shootings “on the streets Yale students walk daily.” That claim is extremely vague. Off campus? In the downtown area? In a five mile radius? You should be more clear.

    I also wonder whether Cambridge has been significantly safer than New Haven in the past five years. This YDN graph seems to say otherwise. http://www.yaledailynews.com/photos/2009/sep/15/19802/ While the Cantabs have been known to underestimate crimes in the area, Yalies often overestimate the danger of walking New Haven streets. This isn’t the safest place but I’m not afraid of living in New Haven.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “I’m not afraid of living in New Haven,” until the sun goes down.

    PK

  • BrightSide2013

    @The Anti-Yale: I’m not afraid of living in New Haven, even after dark. I’m a girl too, in case you were wondering.

    You graduated over thirty years ago, do you even live in New Haven? I’m just curious.

  • The Anti-Yale

    I was born in what is now Yale/New Haven Hospital and visited my grandmother every weekend for the first 19 years of my life who lived two blocks from Yale in a third floor walk-up with no hot water at Elm and State (a ghetto at that time). I recall as a child steping over a semi-conscious drunk lying in the first floor hallway of her apartment building.

    My parents lived in Mt. Carmel. I went away to college and grad school from 1964-73. I lived in New Haven from 1974-85 on Everit Street for four years, at Elm and Howe for 7 years, where I was mugged in the St. Thomas Moore parking lot at midnight.

    I was an apartment superintendent in both places, including while I attended Yale 1976-80. I was responsible for the welfare of 88 low-income families in my last superintendency.

    I continued to visit my family home and New Haven until 1992 when my father died.

    His brother, my Uncle Harold, started the first biracial church in New Haven, the Rockview-Brookside Community Church in what was euphemistically called “the projects”.

    My parents attended the New Haven Symphony for years and parked their car adjacent to St. Mary’s Church, whose front steps (half a block from Yale’s president’s house) became the murder scene of a Yale student. They would often walk by that Church’s front steps and back to their car at 11:30 P.M. well into their seventies.

    I have lived in Vermont for 25 years.

    Contrary to you, I would not walk in New Haven alone after dark today.

    :>)

    PK

  • YaleMomNYC

    I am deeply concerned about the recent violence in New Haven. Yale should do everything within its power to ensure the safety of its students.

    I think CCTV is long overdue. Recently, on the North Shore of L.I., in Kings Point, the town within a week erected cameras after two of its residents had been robbed in their garages.

    The point I’m trying to make is that Yale should respond with dispatch to this problem. Given that the last shooting occurred near areas where many students live and where there are a number of frat houses, the University should do whatever needs to be done in terms of erecting a CCTV system in the area (monitored of course) and ensure that the officer who was assigned to Crown Street previously is there again.

    We want our children to be safe in New Haven. With the recent spate of violence, one wonders whether in fact New Haven is a safe place for one’s child to spend four years.

  • dalet5770

    It is clear that Title IX is attempting to eviscerate the precedent that men and testosterone have with Yale. This is clearly Orwellian and contrary to natural Law. Would not a proper educational system dictate that a women always be escorted by a male upperclassman or is there no precedent