Severe security and police problems have caused Harvard University to have nearly four times the violent crime of Yale, a recent study by the Student-Alumni Committee on Institutional Security Policy concluded.
Yale had 27.1 percent as many allegations of violent crime on campus as Harvard during 2001 and 2002, the most recent years for which statistics were available, committee partner James Herms said. Herms said Harvard, unlike Yale, did not consistently protect all of campus and did not actively participate in community policing.
The committee, which studies campus security and is centered in Cambridge, Mass., compiled crime data from Yale, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Chicago, Herms said. The six schools were chosen because they were all ranked in the top 13 schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report and shared similar characteristics, such as size of the student body and an urban setting.
The study counted the number of homicides, forcible rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults reported to campus security or local police over the two-year period.
Harvard had about twice the violent crime allegations as the next highest school, Penn, and more than double the allegations of nearby MIT. Columbia, which has security guards in every undergraduate dormitory, had the lowest reported crime of any of the schools studied, Herms said.
Herms said the locations of Harvard and Yale did not cause the difference between the two schools.
“Cambridge is much safer than New Haven, but Yale has a better police department,” Herms said. “Harvard’s police department has been unfortunately politicized.”
Herms said pressure for a greater police presence on Harvard’s central campus has caused officials to place only one patrol car near the Harvard Medical School.
“That has become a high-crime area due to the presence of community members who have money, who are attractive targets, and who are not being protected by police,” Herms said.
Herms said Harvard has had difficulty finding police to work its midnight to 8 a.m. shift — the time during which violent crime is most likely. Yale has 8 percent more full-time police officers, even though Harvard has significantly more students, Herms said.
Yale Police Lt. Michael Patten said Yale has a large police and security presence all over campus — including the area around the medical school and Science Hill — 24 hours a day. The number of officers assigned to the night shift is roughly the same as that of those assigned to other shifts at Yale, Patten said.
Harvard police officials were not available for comment Monday.
Stephen McCombe, the founder and former president of the Harvard University Security, Parking, and Museum Guards Union, said he has seen a decline in the standards of the campus police and security forces.
“They outsource security a lot there — and the security is not the same,” McCombe said. “A lot of good officers have left and gone to other departments. They’re not happy. The environment there is pretty bad and the morale is terrible.”
McCombe said one major problem at Harvard is the security guards’ lack of visibility. University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith said Yale’s police officers and security guards patrol the campus on foot and by bicycle and car and are highly visible.