The announcement that Yale security and police will move from the Secretary’s Office to the Division of Human Resources and Administration on July 1 is the latest in a series of changes that are shaking up the University’s public safety apparatus.
The transfer of responsibilities comes at a crucial time for the University’s security agencies: The Yale police force is awaiting a permanent replacement for 37-year veteran Chief James A. Perrotti, and Yale Security was reorganized in January, resulting in the elimination of 13 positions and the expansion of the patrol force earlier this year. Still, administrators said the shift was necessary to balance the portfolios of all University officers.
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Though University Vice President of Human Resources and Administration Michael Peel’s division will oversee day-to-day security and police operations, University President Richard Levin said Sunday, Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer’s office will still retain control of security during major events and emergencies. Police and security officials will report to Associate Vice President for Administration Janet Lindner, a former chief administrative officer for the city of New Haven.
Splitting security duties between the two offices will allow Yale to take better advantage of Lorimer’s extensive experience in coping with emergencies, Levin said. The Office of the Secretary hired its first director of emergency management services, Maria Bouffard, to oversee Yale’s emergency operations planning in December 2008. Meanwhile, Lindner has experience with managing security forces; as chief administrative officer for New Haven, she supervised the city’s operating departments, including police, fire, parks and human resources.
“[Lorimer] is a national leader in crisis management and response,” Levin said. “It would be silly to not let her keep that responsibility.”
But a police source said Friday’s announcement came as a surprise to most officers and that many are still waiting to see how the changes will affect police operations.
Yale Security personnel, meanwhile, have dealt with significant change over the last few months. At the beginning of the year, the force restructured to have fewer layers of management, laying off some employees but also expanding the number of patrol officers. As part of the changes, former New Haven Police Chief Francisco Ortiz, previously head of West Campus Security for Yale, took over as director of security operations. As the YPD adjusts to new leadership, former NHPD Chief James Lewis has been brought in to serve as interim director of public safety while the University conducts a national search for a permanent replacement.
Levin said in an interview that the shift of responsibility away from the Secretary’s Office will even out historical imbalances between it and the human resources division, adding that the Department of Human Resources, with its existing administrative functions, should be able to absorb the new responsibilities smoothly.
Lindner’s new portfolio of duties will be “significant,” but the officers are confident she can handle them, Levin said. Lindner deferred comment to Yale spokesman Tom Conroy, who said members of the Yale community were unlikely to notice any changes in the quality of security services on campus.
“The critical question is what’s needed to serve the community and the students, staff and faculty,” Conroy said. “That’ll be the same, regardless of which officer oversees them.”
Conroy added that Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith, who currently oversees Yale police and security, will “support the Secretary’s portfolio in whatever ways Secretary Lorimer thinks are best.”
Highsmith said the Office of the Secretary had taken on a disproportionate number of programs over the last two years. Currently, Lorimer’s office coordinates a variety of campus events and programs ranging from Commencement and student prizes to the Association of Yale Alumni and Visitor Center.
“This transition provides more even distribution of Officer responsibilities,” Highsmith said.
The Office of the Secretary was organized in its present form in 1919. Lorimer has been University secretary since 1993.
Nora Caplan-Bricker contributed reporting.