Following a busy summer for street crime in downtown New Haven, the Yale Police Department will continue providing walking patrols and other security measures, which were originally implemented after last fall’s series of student muggings in areas located near the edges of campus.
This summer, two Yale graduate students and one undergraduate were mugged in areas close to campus by youths traveling on bicycles armed with pellet guns and knives — a type of crime prevalent last fall during a wave of armed robberies in areas surrounding central campus.
“We [saw] a lot of activity with groups of young kids,” YPD Lt. Michael Patten said. “They [went] out in groups of 10 or 12 kids on bicycles, acting in a disorderly way and participating in street crime.”
The first robbery, in which a Yale graduate student was robbed near the intersection of Elm and Park streets by a youth with a kitchen knife, occurred in late June. Two more robberies occurred on Aug. 21 and 22 on Prospect Street and Park Street and also involved youths on bicycles. Arrests have been made in two of the three incidents.
Although these summer robberies shared similarities with the robberies that occurred last fall, Patten said he does not believe last fall’s rash of attacks on Yale students will repeat itself.
“We continue to have the extra patrols that we instituted last year,” he said. “We’ve found that increased visibility of police officers tends to cut down on crime.”
Patten said he could not specify the exact location of walking patrol officers, but said they will be patrolling in the evening hours around Park, Edgewood and Howe streets — areas that saw a number of robberies last fall. While he said the police presence will help to prevent some crime, Patten urged students to take advantage of the University’s 2-WALK and minibus services.
John Peretti ’07, a freshman counselor in Davenport College, said he and his fellow freshman counselors in Davenport have paid particular attention to emphasizing safety.
“The freshman counselors and [Davenport Dean Craig Harwood] agreed that we would really try to highlight these services,” he said. “We want them to know that these services have been greatly expanded and improved upon and use them.”
Although Patten said the youths involved in the recent crimes are not affiliated with gangs, he said rivalries between teens from different neighborhoods often manifest themselves as street crimes. In addition to these battles over turf, Patten said that youth often become involved with street crime as a way to keep themselves occupied during the summer months. Many kids, he said, have nothing better to do.
In the months since last fall’s wave of muggings, the University has taken steps to reach out to local youth, in particular with last year’s opening of a community center serving the Dixwell neighborhood inside the new Rose Center, the YPD’s Ashmun Street headquarters.
Makana Ellis ’05, the community center’s program director, said the center provides programs for youth ranging from personal tutoring to SAT prep classes and dance workshops. But Ellis said Yale can still play a bigger role in the community.
“It’s definitely a two-way street,” she said. “We need to go out into the community, but we need to invite the community inward.”