Security officers decry changes as unsafe

Amidst reports of tension between the Yale Police and administration, sources with close ties to Yale Security have accused the University of altering deployment policies to penalize the security force for unionizing — a change the sources said jeopardizes student safety.

Multiple sources with close ties to Yale Security — who asked to remain anonymous due to concern about retribution — claimed the administration recently changed security patterns as a form of “retaliation” after Yale Security unionized in 2010. They alleged that the administration has left established security posts like parking garages largely unattended by transferring security officers to walking patrols. Administators have also breached the security officers’ contracts, the sources said, by moving and segmenting shifts and reducing overtime opportunities with the hiring of security guards through unaffiliated security companies.

Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner told the News last week that the changes are a result of budget conditions and will not threaten student safety. On Monday, she also denied any claims of retaliation, adding that she “completely respect[s]” the Security union’s contract and right to organize.

But the sources with Security ties disagreed.

“Ever since we unionized, the University has been making our lives miserable,” said one source with close ties to Yale Security and about 10 years of service to the University, adding that at some points during the weekend, Yale Security “only [has] one person patrolling all of the garages at Yale.”

“They’re messing around with our shifts, cutting them up in ways that aren’t in the contract, and that’s a breach of contract,” another source close to Yale Security with almost 20 years of service to the University said. “But the administration is saying ‘management’s rights’ mean they can do whatever they want. They’re playing games with us.”

Since September, administrators have reassigned security officers — traditionally posted inside University facilities — to street patrol roles, replacing professionally trained Yale Police Department officers. Unlike Yale Police officers, Yale Security guards are unarmed and not authorized to detain suspects or make arrests. Lindner, who oversees both Yale Police and Yale Security, said that management’s rights gives administrators “the right to think about how to run and deploy” security forces.

Lindner said the changes were part of a push to establish security officers as more visible presences on campus for both members of the Yale community and potential criminals. She said that while there have been changes to patrol assignments, walking patrols for security officers are not a new occurrence, as Yale Security guards have traditionally completed tours on foot, bike and segway as part of their duties.

“Instead of walking through the residential college, [the security officer] will now step outside,” Lindner said. “They have visible neon jackets so they’re much more of a presence.”

But the sources with close ties to Yale Security said security officers see these changes as punitive. The source with almost 20 years of service said security officers are now stationed along the Farmington Canal, where an undergraduate was assaulted on Sunday. He added that security officers ought to be provided with training and self-defense if they are to be stationed in areas that traditionally have seen high crime rates like Farmington Canal.

Lindner said security officers are “fully capable” of carrying out their job, and she refuted the claim that the they are not adequately trained for their positions.

“They wouldn’t be working at Yale University if they weren’t competent professionals who were trained and know how to handle their professional duties. No one’s asking them to be police [officers],” Lindner said. She added that a Yale Security officer’s job is to prevent crime, with duties like providing Safe Rides services and calling Yale Police officers during any criminal incidents.

But the source with about 20 years of service disagreed and expressed concerns about security officers’ safety.

“The administration is putting us where all the crime is the worst — they want us in the problem areas with a bright green shirt,” the source said. “We’ve got a target on our backs.”

The source who served the University for about ten years expressed concern that the administration will work to phase out Yale Security by increasingly hiring privately contracted — and therefore non-union — personnel referred to as “casuals” as security officers retire.

Lindner said administrators have not cut any security or police officers and does not plan to reduce the hours of current employees in favor of privately contracted “casuals.” She explained that while Yale Security is currently made up of full-time employees, part-time employees and some “casuals,” the administration is moving toward a workforce that largely consists of regular part-time employees who work about 20 hours a week. Lindner added that this accommodates many officers who have two jobs.

But despite Yale’s hiring criteria that “casuals” possess a strong knowledge of Yale, the source with about ten years of service to the University said that these unaffiliated security guards do not know the University as well as Yale Security officers and added that the “casuals” receive overtime work when unionized officers do not.

The source also said that the union brought charges of unfair labor practices against the University last week and added that the union is considering a vote of no-confidence in security management in the near future. Lindner said she was unaware of these charges and added that officers can utilize the grievance process within their contracts to formalize any complaints.

Security Chief Union Steward Mike Rubino declined to comment.

Yale Security voted to unionize in November 2010, citing concerns for job security and alleged departmental mismanagement. Throughout the process, the administration challenged unionization efforts through the National Labor Relations Board, successfully disputing Yale Security’s eligibility to unionize under an AFL-CIO union and later contesting ballots in its unionization bid.

After about a year of negotiations and 15 bargaining sessions, Yale Security officers, now represented by the International Union of Security Police and Fire Professions of America (SPFPA), reached a formal contract agreement with the University in November 2011.

The SPFPA represents approximately 140 Yale Security Officers.

Everett Rosenfeld contributed reporting.

Comments

  • Sara

    First off, the idea that security officers are somehow “at risk” if they walk around the neighborhoods is absolutely ridiculous. Residents walk around these neighborhoods all the time and 9,999 times out of 10,000 they are perfectly fine. If you want to be in an “at risk” job, take a job that involves operating heavy machinery, driving a car, or working late nights in a gas station.

    Second off, the best thing Yale (and New Haven) can do to improve safety is to further reduce its force of police officers over time, and use that $$$ savings to dramatically expand the walking patrols of “parasecurity” and Downtown Ambassadors. Instead of doing it through lay offs it should slowly phase out most of the unionized force through attrition.

    Next, Yale should expand the parasecurity patrols well beyond the border of campus (like it currently does in East Rock), at least 10 or 20 blocks into the Hill and Dwight. Criminals will get the idea that downtown is a patrolled area, and will go to Hamden, instead of driving up the crime rate a few blocks from campus. The campus is safe, but venture a few blocks off in certain directions, e.g., the Hill, and there are some huge issues.

    We need more “boots on the ground” and that is exactly what Yale intends to do here. Camden just laid off its ENTIRE police department so it could replace them with a non-unionized force that, within the same budget, can be much larger in size.

    The City should take a page from Yale as well, and implement the same strategy. Under Yale’s strategy, crime would all but disappear from New Haven if City Hall weren’t beholden to the police unions and wanted to get rid of the high crime rate.

    • towngown83

      I don’t understand why Sara keeps spreading the falsehood that Camden is laying off thier police department. They would replace the city force with a county police department, still union employees just covering a wider area. And what exactly is “para-security” Sara? Downtown Ambassadors don’t work for Yale, and what do they have to do with security? And your plan is to drive crime into a neighboring town? On one hand you claim the city is safe, on the other crime is raging several blocks away from campus. I think Sara should stick to her usual rant about the evils of cars in the downtown areas.

      • Sara

        “The reason, officials say, is that generous union contracts have made it financially impossible to keep enough officers on the street. So in November, Camden, which has already had substantial police layoffs, will begin terminating the remaining 273 officers and give control to a new county force. The move, officials say, will free up millions to hire a larger, nonunionized force of 400 officers to safeguard the city, which is also the nation’s poorest.”

        September 28, 2012 – New York Times

        “Crime-ridden Camden, New Jersey – often referred to as the most dangerous city in the United States—is getting rid of its police department. In the latest example of a cash-strapped municipality taking drastic measures to deal with swollen public sector liabilities and shrinking budgets, the city plans to disband its 460-member police department and replace it with a non-union “Metro Division” of the Camden County Police.”

        August 26, 2012 – Fox

  • Ace96

    Crime will never disappear! And are you serious with what you are saying? You obviously don’t have a clue. Police and security work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year….so that includes your late night comment! As towards New Haven being safe, your wrong. It is not. Why does the city continue to bring in different chiefs to try and statigize on how to lower crime? It will never happen. Crime is everywhere and will continue to rise do to surrounding poverty and gun haven tactics. Lowering police personnel is another ignorant comment. The first number to call when you need help is what? I would think is 911. So if there is less police in New Haven being that they lack officers now, what makes you think they will have time to respond to your “someone stole my iPhone?” please these are men and women who work in the heat, rain and endure all the elements while you are inside playing with your iPad! You have to respect those who actually walk the beat may it be security or police. And toward going into the Hill and bad neighborhoods, why don’t you go put your feet to the pavement and call crimes in from your cell phone right in front of these thugs? “Sara,” you are very naive. Non of your comments mad sense. By the way, my brother is a proud police office in Camden, and now they did not layoff all of its force or fire them. Get you facts straight. These are job that officers dedicate themselves to everyday to keep people like you safe. Ambassadors really don’t have any traing and you really think they will make a difference. Apply, do the job and then comment “Sara!”

  • Ace96

    I have a question for Sara. Why are you so concerned with overtime? Are an administrator for Yale or the city of New Haven?

  • Sara

    Ace96 – we need police officers, too. Nobody claimed otherwise. They have a very important role to play.

    But we also need to prioritize. If there’s only $15 million to protect my neighborhood, say, I’d rather use it to have a force of 200 people (150 parasecurity officers plus 50 cops) than 100 people (100 cops).

    In some cases, there is evidence that adding more officers actually makes crime worse. First think about the strain that a large force places on local budgets and property tax. Second, consider the “stigma” — and resulting disinvestment — that is associated with neighborhoods that are always flooded with uniformed officers and police sirens. Third, arrest rates and criminalization of youth may be higher in these areas (e.g. black youth much more likely to be arrested for the same offenses) which leads to long term economic catastrophe.

    I would rather cut half the force and use that money to hire people who actually live in my neighborhood, and don’t put on their sirens when they just need to drive down the street to get a donut.

    We need police but we also need to be smart about how we use our resources. Cutting Yale officers in order to replace them with more parasecurity walking jobs is the best idea for Yale security since Levin installed more lights on campus.

  • Sara

    P.S. “Crime will never disappear” is exactly the mentality of the police union. That is why they are against measures that would reduce crime greatly, like the one I just suggested above. In the long term, if we make crime disappear (which is not just possible, but easy to do if we have a plan), many of the officers will have to find different jobs.

    • towngown83

      That has to be one of the dumbest ideas to reduce crime I’ve ever read. Use untrained, unarmed union guards with no authority to patrol the streets. What are they going to do, grieve me?

  • Ace96

    You don’t have a clue as to what you are talking about! Please do not embarrass yourself and stop commenting please. Your facts are all wrong from your first staments and now your making less sense as you continue to comment. If you really know how to make crime disappear you would be genius. But apperently not as crime has been around since the dawn of man. And continue to make the economy stronger by laying off the people who pertect you? Very smart! You should be Obama’s running mate and maybe you can fix healthcare, world peace and the employment rate to drop to 0%!!!

  • John67

    Come on, this is easy. If you are sitting in the guard’s office in the parking garage you can talk on the phone, read the newspaper, even nap. If you have to get off your backside and walk around the campus, that begins to look like work. Which do you choose?

    • BubbaJoe123

      Ding ding ding, we have a winner!

  • jamesdakrn

    Everybody needs to watch “The Wire”

  • johnlover72

    Janet Lindner speaks with a fork tongue. She says one thing to the Daily News, and her and Dan Killen, Director of security, do another thing.

    Lindner said that the university is moving to permanent part time employee’s of 20 hours.This is a lie they are hiring for 16 hours permanent part time jobs that have no benefits. This is saving the university “MONEY”.

    She is right that this will accommodate the people, that have full time jobs.but this type of a security officer is only interested in a paycheck, and not in the safety of the students, and staff of the University. There full time jobs is there primary responsibility.

    This is a dangerous road to go down where you have a part time security staff instead off full time security officer who’s job it is, to secure and protect the students, staff and property of the University..

    • towngown83

      Of course it saves money. Show me one guard here for the simple joy of protecting the campus and the students/staff. Quite a few of the part timers seem to be much more enthusiastic about thier job than the full time guards. The ones who were lazy before are intolerable now. Try waiting for a lock out, call the poor men in the office and listen to them call the guards trying to find out where they are. Go to the health plan, you can find three or four guards outside talking or a couple inside hanging around. I bet the part time guards are much more willing to do more to get a job.

  • Shadow

    First, the hiring of “casual” officers was in the contract, so every member knew exactly what the deal was when it was passed. It should be noted that the posting of officers is NOT protected by senority in the contract. Several “casuals” have extensive REAL LAW ENFORCEMENT BACKGROUNDS which most full time officers do not .Sitting in a booth at a parking lot for twenty years doesnt make you a cop. Also, casuals dont get overtime, which is the real issue here. The YPD and Yale security officers want the overtime back. Some security guards in the past have earned $90,000+ a year.
    Get a pro to draw up your next contract.

    • towngown83

      If they’re employed as guards, it doesn’t matter what the background of the person is. They are not employed as police and have no police authority. And being a prison guard for twenty years isn’t what I would call “real law enforcement” experience. Yes, I talk to the guards also when I get my walking escort. The rest of your comments are exactly on mark.

  • Sara

    Shadow is correct. Hire more people (total # of patrols up), have less overtime and more boots on the ground.

  • towngown83

    I bet the uberheavy guy who hangs around the Anlyan Center all night eating is the number one complainer. The vast majority of the guards seem to hang around with each other and gab. The front desk in my building has been a convention center for years, it’s gotten worse since they became a unionized force. They could have trained the staff a little better, since the change most of the guards have no idea where they are now. They’re moved out of the holes they hid in for years, and are completely lost for the most part. I don’t see why they’re complaining as they did little for the most part before. Now they have to walk and work and be visible. Management has the right to manage, to assign and to schedule. Oooops, I guess the guards should have read a little more and listened less to the union backers and the silver tounged devils.

    • Shadow

      True.

  • Shadow

    True

    • towngown83

      You must be a security insider. Minimum staffing aside, security has been haphazard for years on the Medical School side. Ever wait for a lockout? How about the rude guard in the Amistad Garage, if you could find her? The union meeting at the security staion in the Anlyan Center every night? The murder at the Amistad Building was by an employee in a secured area. Unless you suggest a guard in every room thats a pointless argument. We would be at risk if we had less of a security presence than we were used to. But trust me, it’s still the same lazy, ineffective guards at night that we’ve suffered through for years.

  • Ace96

    This all appears to be Disgruntled employees. I find this to be wrong may it be an insider or from the police. All I read is overtime and money. One thing I don’t agree with is the university shifting from full time to 20 or 16 hour casuals. If anyone has worked in the field feel free to coment. If you have not please don’t fabricate thoughts and put them on paper. As I stated before may it be security standing some place, you don’t have the slightest idea if administration wants them in a area due to a previous incident. When you do the job and know what it consists of then comment. These are people’s jobs. If you would like to see yourself with sirens flashing to D&D as some have commented or 3 people talking together, go through the proper channels apply go to an academy or get experience and train. For all that contract talk, I don’t know what you guys bargained for but I know Yale always bargains in good faith….lol! Not true! But be causious as to what you ask for next time around. Security and police, stick together and help one another in all aspects of the job. Give each other ideas for bargaining power. Well as for “Shadow” you appear to be on an administrative side just like Towngown, how do you know every move these guys make. It doesn’t sound good to air out your dirty laundry! Be careful and be wise because it can be you who is affected in the long run! Sound educated, you guys work for Yale University.

    • towngown83

      Disgruntled maybe, but that would be thier own fault. Since I have to depend on the guards and police, I’ll feel free to comment on thier ability or lack of skills.