Twenty-two-year-old Chris Pollard’s ’09 criminal record was clean. He had never so much as gotten a parking ticket.
But Wednesday morning at about 10:15, the Berkeley College senior was flagged down by a Yale Police Department officer. What was his crime? Pollard, like dozens of students every morning, had jaywalked across Elm Street.
But this morning was different. Two police officers stood near the post office, waiting to hand him, and dozens of others, a “little pink slip.”
After picking up a package from the post office, Pollard was returning to his room in Berkeley. As he crossed Elm Street on the southeast side of High Street — the side without a crosswalk — a police officer pulled him over. After asking to see Pollard’s Yale ID, the officer wrote him a citation, listing his offense as “crosswalk.” The ticket, though, carried no fine, he said.
But the senior said he remains unclear about whether he faces more serious penalties if caught jaywalking again.
“I just don’t know what to make of it,” Pollard said of his citation. “I don’t know if it’s going to stop me from jaywalking again. Although it might if I see a police officer.”
Pollard does not seem to the be the only one questioning the value of these citations. Students interviewed said they remain unconvinced that ticketing will be able to significantly decrease jaywalking on Yale’s campus and, by extention, crack down on unsafe student street-crossing behavior.
University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
When Elm Street got busier yesterday afternoon, the police were still manning their posts, but it seems they had more trouble punishing all transgressors.
Maggie Reid ’09 said she saw a police officer giving a girl a ticket on the Old Campus side of Elm Street across from Berkeley as a group of about 20 students crossed illegally. The officer stopped one of the students in the pack, but the others crossing were not detained, she said.
Rather than ticketing students, the police should work on constructing a walkway along the northeast side of Elm Street to replace the sidewalk currently blocked by the construction on Calhoun College, Reid said. The construction leaves students with the options of either making a time-consuming detour or crossing illegally, and most choose the latter, she said.
Reid is the science and technology editor for the News.
Mark Abraham ’04 — a member of the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition, which has been lobbying the Yale administration to push for increased street safety since July — agreed that while “all traffic regulations should be enforced when possible,” the police should prioritize enforcement activity based on what puts individuals at greatest risk.
“A jaywalker is less of a risk then a speeder,” he said. “There should be more emphasis on motor violations [and] lower speed limits.”
Undergraduates interviewed Wednesday night said they were shocked that police officers were trying to curb the time-honored Eli tradition of jaywalking, even if it may be for their own good.
“That’s crazy,” said Trumbull junior Alex Ramey ’10. “I can’t believe they’re actually doing that, although a lot of people do cross pretty recklessly.”
Many rushed students aren’t inclined to obey the “illogical traffic patterns” at the corner of Elm and High streets, Ramey added.
Nate Dowlin ’11, a Berkeley resident who says he crosses Elm Street about four times a day, said the strategy of issuing warnings might not convince students to stop jaywalking.
But if the police started handing out real tickets, he said, students might take heed.
—Margy Slattery contributed reporting.