Underage consumers are not the intentional targets of the recent crackdown on the purchase and consumption of alcohol on and around campus since mid-October, police officials said.
Yale Police Department Chief James Perrotti said in an interview Tuesday that a recent uptick in police activity near campus is the result of increased police surveillance of panhandling and public drunkenness. While more than half of some 40 students interviewed said they think the crackdown is related to the University’s heightened concern about underage drinking, University officials interviewed said that is not the case.
Before Halloween, the Yale Police established a police detail to target panhandling and public intoxication because they were concerned about their effect on New Haven’s quality of life, Perrotti said. The detail was not established to monitor underage drinking and alcohol purchases, though Yale students have happened to “cross its path,” he said.
“The detail works well — a police presence controlling small violations can stop the bigger stuff from ever occurring,” Perrotti said.
University Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith said the creation of the new police detail does not reflect a change in University policy. Yale Police pays particular attention to Yale events such as Halloween and the Yale-Harvard game, Highsmith said, adding that Perrotti regularly consults with her about the Yale Police’s activity on campus.
According to the Yale Police Department’s daily crime log, the Yale Police charged two minors with illegally consuming liquor during September; none were charged in October until Halloween weekend, when five minors were charged with consuming liquor; and so far this month, the department has charged eight minors with consuming liquor.
The new police policy comes at a time when the University administration has expressed concern over the number of students requiring medical attention because of intoxication.
Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry’s sent an e-mail to undergraduates Wednesday expressing concern for the well-being of both underage and legal drinkers.
“The number of students found by the police so drunk that they were unable to walk and had to be taken to the hospital has exceeded the total number of such transports from all of last year,” Gentry said.
In the e-mail, Gentry also reminded students to respect state law and said that grain alcohol is not allowed on campus.
Students interviewed came to different conclusions about the e-mail’s implications: two said they thought Gentry’s approach was reasonable, but four said the e-mail made them suspect the administration is behind the recent police action.
A male sophomore, who declined to give his name because he is not 21, said he attempted to purchase liquor twice in the past two weeks but was not able to do so either time. The first time his fake ID was rejected; the second time the police stopped him in front of a liquor store after purchasing alcohol and asked him to call a friend over 21 to carry it for him. The student said the police officer did not take any other action against him.
Still, some students interviewed said they think the police are targeting underage alcohol abuse on campus, not offenses that affect the city’s quality of life.
“The cause of concern is the amount of underage drinking and [alcohol] abuse, not the public disorder that goes with that,” Cole Weston ’13 said. “[Perrotti’s] response is irrelevant to the issue at hand.”
Viktor Romanov ’13, who is not yet 21, said he noticed an increase in the police presence around various New Haven liquor stores, including Broadway Liquor, within the last month. He said he has noticed more liquor stores asking for two forms of identification or scanning IDs to ensure legitimacy over the past few weeks, which has made it more difficult to pass off a fake. He said police once stopped him and gave his underage friend a ticket because his friend had half a beer in his hand.
Matt Miller ’12 said every party he attended this year was broken up while none of them were last year. Other students said friends have been stopped outside Broadway Liquor after purchasing alcohol with fake identification. The police double-checked the IDs, recognized they were fakes, confiscated the IDs and alcohol and fined the students.
“The police have been staked outside Broadway Liquors for the past week,” Steven Horn ’10 said.
Perrotti said the Yale Police will reassess the effectiveness of the detail at the end of the semester and that he expects to continue the program.