A recent spate of crimes targeting Yale students has prompted YPD officials to release e-mails warning students of what they said is an “ongoing threat.”
The same day that undergraduate dorms closed, a graduate student was the victim of an attempted armed robbery near the intersection of Mansfield and Sachem Streets. Four other robberies were committed recently – one on Cedar Street and two in the Dwight-Kensington neighborhood on May 31, as well as one on the walkway between Morse and Stiles Colleges on June 3. At least three of those incidents were armed robberies.
While the YPD generally does not inform students of every incident that occurs around campus through e-mail, YPD Sergeant Steven Woznyk said in this case students should be informed of the incidents as the latest rash of crime seems to indicate the possibility of a continued threat.
Woznyk said the rise in crimes affecting Yale students has kept pace with a general increase in violent crime across New Haven. During the weekend of June 2-3, six shootings and one homicide occurred in the city, he said, suggesting that Yale students are not being singled out for robberies.
Most crime in summer of 2006 was perpetrated by youths on bikes armed with pellet guns and knives, but Woznyk said “boys on bikes” have had nothing to do with the recent Yale robberies. One graduate student was mugged in late June of last year and two more students were targeted in late August.
And while YPD Chief James Perrotti’s e-mails attributed increased student vulnerability to warmer weather and longer periods of daylight, Woznyk said he could not offer an explanation as to why crimes rates have increased this summer.
“I’d almost venture to say we didn’t see [a significant rise in crime] last year…we can’t even say why it happens,” he said.
Yale Summer Session counselor Esteban Tapetillo ’09 said non-Yale students enrolled in Yale Summer Session have not been properly informed of necessary safety precautions in New Haven and facilities like 2Walk and blue phones, making them more susceptible to crimes. The college student attacked between Stiles and Morse was not a Yale student, another YSS counselor said, and the robber may have detected an easy target and seized the opportunity.
While many students said they responded to the e-mails with shock and fear, they also said the e-mails were necessary for informing students about crimes and for crime prevention. The e-mails can also dispel stereotypes about New Haven crime, YSS student Robert Kruse ’09 said, and allow students to realistically understand crime at Yale.
He noted, however, that the e-mails could be more informative. While Perrotti’s emails usually report whether or not a crime involved weapons, his June 4 e-mail failed to mention that the Jock Walk robbery occurred at gunpoint, a fact that Kruse only heard through his summer counselors.
“[The point] was not mentioned in Chief Perrotti’s email, but may have well been implied,” Kruse said. “Still, I feel clarity in discussing important topics such as student safety is necessary, and that Perrotti should have mentioned it.”
Perrotti’s e-mails also mentioned crimes occurring in the East Rock area. East Rock resident Stephen Silva ’09 said that in spite of the recent upsurge in crime, he is not concerned for his safety because the YPD does its job to protect students.
“I only skim [Perrotti’s] emails. I am not too concerned because I know that street crime is a reality in a city,” he said. “Crimes happen most in places where there’s mal distribution of wealth.”
Woznyk said the robberies have spurred closer collaboration between the YPD and NHPD in terms of both patrol and investigations. In the areas where the robberies took place the YPD has dispatched its “community impact divisions” of one sergeant and two officer, he said, and NHPD plain-clothes officers are also supplementing uniformed officers in the affected areas.
“[The community impact division] is out there anyway…and they’ve been very effective over the last few days,” Woznyk said.
Perrotti’s e-mails comply with the 1990 federal “Jeanne Clery Act,” which requires all United States colleges and their security departments to inform students about crime on and around campuses. According to the act, schools must warn the campus community of crimes representing an “ongoing threat,” as well as publish annual reports disclosing campus security policies and crime statistics.