Sanjay Patil, the manager of College Wine on Church Street, said he has noticed a recent increase in police surveillance of his customers.
“They’re always out there,” he said, pointing outside the store Monday night. “There’s never not a police car watching us and keeping an eye on anyone we sell to.”
Patil said he has seen patrol cars from Yale Police, Yale Security and New Haven police. He noted that while police have always checked in to remind him to refuse sale to minors, he has seen a definite increase this semester in police presence. An increase in alcohol abuse this semester may be related to the escalated police enforcement, Deputy University Secretary Martha Highsmith said Monday.
The number of alcohol and drug related transports to Yale New Haven hospital is on pace to double this year, according to Council of Masters Chair Jonathan Holloway. Now, the Yale Police Department is tightening its enforcement of underage drinking laws. Monday’s crime log reports that Yale police cited seven minors for alcohol infractions this weekend and another seven since Halloween weekend. Yale Police have only issued two other citations for minors consuming alcohol this semester, both in September.
Highsmith said Sunday that enforcement always increases in years when the Harvard-Yale game is played at home. But police records from 2007, the last time Yale hosted Harvard, show that officers issued only one citation for minors consuming alcohol in the entire month of November.
“There has been much more use and abuse this semester than in 2007, so the perceived increase in police activity may be due to that behavior,” Highsmith said.
Twenty-four of 46 students interviewed confirmed that they have seen or heard of police stationing themselves near liquor stores and searching possible underage patrons more frequently in the past few weeks. Students said they have experienced or witnessed police confront and search people carrying alcohol and large bags near local liquor stores.
Yale police have also met with owners to remind them of the legal consequences of selling alcohol to minors. A 2006 state law made adults of-age who provide under-aged persons with alcohol legally responsible.
At College Wine on Church Street, brightly colored signs on the doors and counters warn that no alcohol will be sold to those under 21, “no exceptions.”
There is no indication that the more aggressive policy has come from the Yale administration. Holloway said that, though the Council of Masters intends to discuss alcohol abuse during their meeting this Friday, it is not involved in the recent police actions. The Yale College Council plans to publish a memo to the Council asking that the YCC Board be consulted if any policy changes are made, Calhoun Representative Natasha Sarin ’11 said. Sarin added that police “are just around constantly this semester.”
Highsmith said alcohol enforcement is consistent with the YPD’s mission of community policing and upholding quality of life on campus.