With the strike stretching financial resources and manpower at both the New Haven and Yale police departments, the city has billed Yale for the additional costs it has incurred.
City administrators said they sent Yale a bill for $101,800 to pay overtime for police officers who have been sent to back up the University’s police at large events during the strike. With the city having already spent over $589,000 of its $1,000,000 police overtime budget in 10 weeks, Karen DuBois-Walton, the city’s chief administrative officer, said the city needed Yale to foot the bill in difficult fiscal times.
“I hope this would be a way the university would contribute and be a good neighbor,” said DuBois-Walton, who oversees the city’s police department. “They certainly recognize that we are facing a shortage of resources and that our overtime budget is taxed.”
But while University Secretary Linda Koch Lorimer said Yale would discuss the issue with the city, she said state law may prevent private institutions like Yale from hiring municipalities for policing during a strike.
“In the past when Yale has organized an event itself, such as the Tercentennial, that required police coverage, we were pleased to pay for the services contributed by the New Haven police,” Lorimer said. “In this case, we certainly didn’t ask the unions to picket — The question might be asked, why wouldn’t the city bill the union?”
DuBois-Walton said the city was not considering sending a bill to the unions.
She also said that although New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. had discussed the issue with Yale President Richard Levin and Bruce Alexander, Yale’s Vice President of New Haven and State Affairs, the city had not yet received a response to the bill it sent the University last week.
Over the past three weeks, the NHPD and YPD have struggled to cover strike activities while maintaining normal police operations. New Haven police Sgt. Louis Cavalier, the president of the NHPD’s union, said work days are frequently even longer than 12 hours.
“[Officers] were sometimes called in at 8 in the morning until midnight,” Cavalier said. “Emergency Services is working 16 hours a day.”
DuBois-Walton said NHPD officers seldom have been pulled from their normal beats to cover large strike events. Cavalier said the police presence in New Haven has suffered because of the moves.
“It’s not only a danger to the neighborhoods,” Cavalier said. “It’s a danger to the officers who can’t get the support they need out there.”
Sgt. Luiz Casanova, NHPD downtown district manager, said no officers have been taken off their beats downtown.
“The city is not going unprotected,” Casanova said.
Yale Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith said University police have not been pulled from their beats and police services will not be cut, especially in light of recent armed robberies on campus.
“We are providing additional coverage for the strike but we are also working on crime prevention,” Highsmith said. “It’s not a time when we want to ignore the greater safety issues.”
But Highsmith said the cost of the strike has hurt the YPD’s budget.
“We hope by the end of the year we can accomplish enough savings that we won’t be in the red at the end,” Highsmith said. “I’m not aware of any time that we’ve cut services.”
Yale police officer Christopher Morganti said he did not think police coverage on campus has suffered, but that officers were spread thin during the day. Morganti, chief steward for the Yale Police Benevolent Association, said the strike hours were hard on YPD officers and described the overtime pay as “blood money.”
“You literally have only two hours for yourself each day where you aren’t getting ready for work or sleeping,” Morganti said. “I hadn’t seen my kids for more than 10 minutes the first week.”