Yale students alarmed by recent shootings in surrounding neighborhoods may soon be asked to join other community members in being more proactive about ensuring their own safety.
In the wake of three shootings in the city last Monday night, Ward 2 Alderwoman Gina Calder ’03 EPH ’08 and Ward 22 Alderman Greg Morehead called on Friday for increased cooperation between the University and the city’s law-enforcement agencies to enhance neighborhood safety.
Calder, who represents many Yalies living off campus, said she would like to see the formation of student-run neighborhood “block watches,” as well as have the Yale Police Department continue to update its technological safeguards. Morehead, who represents Swing Space and Morse, Ezra Stiles, Silliman and Timothy Dwight colleges along with the Dixwell area, called on community groups to reach out more to at-risk youth in the hopes of preventing them from becoming involved in crime.
Calder said she hopes part of this increased collaboration will include the installation of additional campus blue phones at off-campus sites where Yale students are concentrated. The expansion of the phones, which she said produce a police response in under one minute, would help students and faculty who do not live on Yale property, she said at a press conference Friday.
It is also important for Yale students to take a more active role in campus safety and crime awareness, which may involve the establishment of student-run block watch crime-deterrence groups, Calder and Morehead said. The block watches, Calder said, would encourage students to “be more proactive when it comes to crime.”
Calder will decide how and when to push for these and other plans following a series of meetings she hopes to set up with Yale student representatives and police officials, she said.
“We’re going to be talking to students on a broad level about public-safety issues and begin working out solutions,” she said.
Calder said she and Morehead are also looking to encourage the University to provide students with personal alarm locators, pressure-activated key chains that alert security to the location of the carrier in case of an emergency.
These innovations would complement recent upgrades by the University in its security technology, she said. In October, the University instituted Yale ALERT, a program that sends automated calls and text messages to student cell phones, as well as messages to student e-mail accounts, in case of emergency.
Calder said she and Morehead plan to meet with students and University officials in the near future about the proposed programs, although she said they do not have a specific time line.
Deputy University Secretary Martha Highsmith, who oversees campus security efforts, could not be reached for comment Sunday.
In addition to coordinating student safety proposals, Calder and Morehead said, they will be meeting with YPD and New Haven Police Department officials to discuss ways in which YPD officers can help increase the presence of police officers patrolling near campus because the NHPD is “currently understaffed.”
City Hall Spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said that although the YPD is important to ensuring campus security, the NHPD is “best-equipped” to keep the streets of New Haven safe.
“While we respect and appreciate our relationship with the Yale Police Department, we do believe that the safety of New Haven is best put in the hands of the New Haven Police Department,” Mayorga said in a phone message.
YPD and NHPD officials could not be reached for comment over the weekend.
Morehead also blamed growing crime rates on a lack of support networks for young residents of the city. He said parents, schools and churches need to do more to keep young men off the streets.
Representatives of local churches who were at the press conference echoed Morehead’s concerns and called on parents to play a more active role in preventing their children from turning to crime.
Morehead and Calder said that although they have been planning to announce these proposals for some time, their proposals were particularly relevant in light of last week’s shootings.
Last Monday night, 27-year-old Freddy Salinas was killed during an attempted robbery in Fair Haven. In two separate shootings, police injured two male teenagers carrying firearms, one in Beaver Hills and the other on the corner of Elm and Orchard streets.