Police chiefs meet students

The Elm City’s police leadership packed into the Berkeley College Common Room Monday evening for a meet and greet with students.

New Haven Police Department Chief Dean Esserman and Yale Police Department Chief Ronnell Higgins were joined by four members of the Board of Aldermen and about 25 students in an hour-long session aimed at allowing students to get to know police leadership and understand their departments’ operations. The meeting, organized by Ward 1 Alderwoman Sarah Eidelson ’12, who represents most undergraduates on the board, and members of the Yale College Council’s executive board, comes as police seek to strengthen relations with students as part of a broad-based community policing strategy.

“The fact that both Chief Higgins and Chief Esserman were so eager to do this is indicative of the fact they yearn for more student input on policing, and I think it’s incumbent upon students to step up to the plate and do that,” YCC President Brandon Levin ’13 said. “Students play a role in community policing and the chiefs mentioned repeatedly that they are eager to work with students and the YCC to find ways to do that.”

Since taking office in November, Esserman has reached out to the Yale community in a manner unlike his predecessor Frank Limon, said Ward 29 Alderman Brian Wingate, who chairs the Board of Aldermen’s public safety committee. Already, Esserman teaches a Yale Law School clinic on “Innovations in Policing” with Professor James Forman Jr. LAW ’92, and Yale College Dean Mary Miller said in February her office was working on details for a potential residential college seminar taught by Esserman.

Esserman said engaging with the Yale community is simply one part of a broader community policing strategy that involves developing relationships between police and all members of the community to both prevent and solve crimes.

“Yale’s an important part of the city, and its students are part of the community we serve,” Esserman told the News before the event.

Eidelson said she organized the event to facilitate more open lines of communication between students and the city’s police departments, adding that she hopes to combat a lack of information among students about how policing works.

“I just told the chief, these events show we’re moving in the right direction, so hopefully this can be sustainable,” Wingate said. “The community has high expectations, with the students in the community, I love it.”

Wingate added it was particularly exciting to see student leadership engaging with the city’s police.

All three YCC presidential candidates — Cristo Liautaud ’14, John Gonzalez ’14 and Eric Eliasson ’14 — attended the event, and all three agreed that students and YCC members should become acquainted with the police leadership.

“YCC can really help the Yale Police promote its resources and get in touch with students and manage expectations of students,” said Liautaud, who has met with Higgins to discuss student initiatives to improve public safety.

Gonzalez and Eliasson said events like Monday night’s meet and greet provide important opportunities for students to better educate themselves about local policing operations, particularly with the citywide rollout of community policing strategies and the NHPD’s aim to improve communication between police and residents.

Students asked the assembled police leadership — who also included YPD Assistant Chiefs Michael Patten and Steven Woznyk — a variety of questions about community policing, public safety around Toad’s Place and police-fraternity interactions.

When asked by a student about how fraternities can improve their relationships with the police, Esserman shot back: “Can I ask you a question? What’s the drinking age?”

Other groups Esserman has met with since being sworn in include the Dwight Hall Urban Fellows Program, the Yale Police Department’s Citizen’s Police Academy and Middleman.


  • NewHavener

    The response to essermans last comment should have been Was he aware of the drinking age in Rhode Island when he was Chief in Providence .

  • Sara

    Can they increase traffic ticketing? I am not sure how many tickets are given out for speeding in the downtown area. Drivers go down Grove Street at 70 miles per hour after the Hockey games. Here is a partial list of problems that someone posted a couple years ago.

    o SEPTEMBER 2005 — Undergraduate sent to the hospital in critical condition after being struck by a bus in front of Woolsey Hall.
    o DECEMBER 2005 — Two seniors hospitalized after being hit by a mini-van at the corner of Edgewood and Park Street.
    o JANUARY 2006 — Student hospitalized after being struck by a pick-up truck in front of the Yale School of Management.
    o FEBRUARY 2006 — A Yale Music student is hospitalized after being struck by a car near Science Hill.
    o MAY 2006 — Yale undergraduate, a junior, is struck and killed while biking near the Yale Bowl.
    o SEPTEMBER 2006 — Yale senior struck by a car while crossing Elm St., next to the Old Campus, causing serious hip injuries.
    o OCTOBER 2006 — Public Health graduate student struck at North Frontage and College, when a driver loses control and runs up on the sidewalk. Student suffers broken collarbone.
    o OCTOBER 2007 — Freshman struck at York and Elm in a hitand-run accident. She suffers four skull fractures.
    o FEBRUARY 2008 — A visiting professor is hospitalized after being hit by a car on High Street, next to the Old Campus.
    o APRIL 2008 — 4th year Medical student struck and killed while crossing South Frontage Road at York Street.
    o MAY 2008 — A Yale Law student struck and seriously injured at the intersection of Chapel & High Streets, in front of the BAC.
    o MAY 2009 — Woman hit and dragged by bus on Broadway near York. Multiple arm fractures, but pedestrian survives.
    o MAY 2009 — Yale Medical Center Researcher struck and killed by bus while crossing Frontage Road.
    o AUGUST 2009 — Jogger killed while crossing Elm Street two blocks from campus. Third downtown pedestrian fatality in less than eighteen months.
    o JULY 2010 — Undergraduate student is hospitalized in serious condition after being hit by a car on Winchester near Sachem.

    • alum

      as someone who drives around campus, how about ticketing students for jaywalking rather than solely going after the drivers? perfect example is the intersection outside of commons when students will dart across the street continually when oncoming traffic has a green light.

      • Robbie

        Between jaywalking and driving around campus, the worse choice is absolutely driving around campus.