In the wake of several armed robberies near Yale’s central campus, crime prevention has become a major issue in the upcoming Ward 1 aldermanic race.
Ward 1 Alderwoman Rebecca Livengood ’07 and challenger Nick Shalek ’05 have shifted debate from the construction of the Yale Cancer Center to the problem of crime in response to the recent increase in robberies on and off campus. Both candidates said Ward 1 has been among those hit hardest by the recent upswing in New Haven criminal activity, but each candidate has sought to address the concern in different ways.
Shalek sent an e-mail petition to a majority of the Yale community on Monday that called upon University administrators to focus on both short and long term strategies for reducing crime. One of Shalek’s proposals is to create a more permanent police substations in problem areas, particularly Edgewood, Dwight and Howe streets.
“Many students have expressed great concern over this issue,” Shalek said. “We think it is an important issue in which Yale students should have a voice.”
Livengood said she supports increasing police presence in certain areas but does not think increasing the number of substations would solve the problem.
“Frequently, substations are just used as bases for police officers with walking beats, which I think would be more effective,” Livengood said.
Shalek’s proposal has received mixed reactions from Yale police and community members.
The Yale Police Department, which is headquartered on Sachem Street, currently operates one substation on Congress Avenue. The YPD formerly maintained a substation on Park Street, but YPD Lt. Michael Patten said the station was closed in 2003 because it was part of a larger building that was slated to be demolished. The site of the future Thomas E. Golden Jr. Catholic Center currently occupies the former substation space.
Michael Marino ’06, who lives on Edgewood Street, said a permanent police substation would be more reassuring for students living off campus.
“They used to have the substation on Park Street, which was close enough, but now that it is gone it does seem to me that this side of campus seems a little bit unprotected,” Marino said.
But Patten said creating police substations would be an ineffective use of the department’s limited personnel resources and would not necessarily make the community safer.
“Even if substations were built, they would not be staffed all the time,” he said. “Police officers don’t hang around police stations. They would use that space primarily to do reports.”
The YPD has responded to the increase in crime by adding extra patrol cars and foot patrols to the affected areas. So far, students said they have noticed a difference.
Ben Felt ’07 said he has observed the recent increase in patrols in the neighborhood around Edgewood.
“Every time I walk home, I see two patrol cars,” Felt said.
But regardless of whether new substations are built, Shalek said he believes substations are only a short-term solution.
“In the long term, I think the way to reduce crime is through socioeconomic growth,” he said. “I think it is symptomatic of a larger need for economic and human development.”