In response to the recent spate of crimes around campus, increased policing has not been haphazard — instead, it has been part of a philosophy that, considering its importance to the Yale and New Haven Police Departments, is relatively unheard of among undergraduates.
The philosophy, community policing, has been gaining momentum across the nation in the past few decades among inner city police departments, and has surfaced in New Haven primarily in the form of increased Yale and New Haven Police foot patrols, a major component of the community policing strategy. But some students said they have not yet noticed the effects of such a policy.
“Since one of my friends got mugged there’s been an increase in the number of police cars driving around the area, but I’m not so sure about the increase in foot patrols,” said Emmy Harris ’06, who lives on Edgewood Avenue. “I wish they’d establish a permanent police presence in the vicinity of Howe and Edgewood.”
For the police departments that operate on and near campus, community policing is more of a philosophy than a specific plan of operation, University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith said.
“It helps us make decisions at the street level,” she said. “For example, it helps us determine how many officers are needed in a particular area.”
The approach the NHPD is taking to the recent string of muggings in local neighborhoods rests on the premise that officers should operate as members of the community, according to the Web site of the Community Policing Consortium. The NHPD’s Web site describes community policing as an attempt to move from “a traditional, reactive and incident based, 911 driven approach, to a community policing approach which utilizes proactive methods for crime prevention.”
While local police officers have stepped up community policing efforts in recent weeks, some students said they are unsure of the practical applications of the policy.
“I’ve obviously noticed more police officers standing around between 3 and 7 AM, but if I can see where they’re standing, so can people on bikes,” said Amanda Eckerson ’07, who lives on Howe Street. “The police don’t have bicycles — the perpetrators have bicycles. Standing on street corners isn’t going to stop people on bikes.”
On campus, the Yale Police Department also follows the tenets of community policing.
“Community policing is old-fashioned policing,” YPD Lt. Michael Patten said. “It’s police officers interacting with the community, getting to know the area, seeing who’s supposed to be there and who’s not.”