Confirming concerns raised by Yale officials last year that alcohol problems were on the rise, 2009 crime statistics released by the Yale Police Department on Wednesday show a 27 percent increase in local alcohol-related incidents compared to 2008.
Police recorded 163 alcohol-related incidents in 2009, up from 128 in 2008, according to the 2009 Campus Safety Report. In an interview with the News on Wednesday, Deputy Secretary Martha Highsmith, who oversaw Yale security in 2009, said the statistics suggest alcohol abuse on campus has escalated over the last five years.
“There was a real spike in terms of folks finding themselves in trouble,” said Jonathan Holloway, master of Calhoun College and chair of the College of Masters. “We’re all very concerned.”
Otherwise, the report provided mixed results on campus crime reduction: The number of burglaries on campus jumped from 51 in 2008 to 74 in 2009, but that’s still far fewer than the 103 on-campus burglaries reported in 2007. Sex offenses, meanwhile, fell by half last year, from 13 in 2008 to seven in 2009.
Of the 163 alcohol-related incidents, 74 were arrests. Police made most of them on public property, such as streets and sidewalks adjacent to the University. Only 10 arrests were made on campus, down from 29 in 2008 and 33 in 2007. Off campus, police made 12 arrests in 2009, up from zero in 2008.
In 2005, police made no alcohol-related arrests at all. But the arrests greatly increased in 2007 after state legislators in late 2006 passed stricter liquor laws that made it illegal for minors to posses alcohol on private property and for people of legal drinking age to fail to stop the possession of alcohol by a minor.
In addition to the arrests, the University also handed down 31 disciplinary actions to students in 2009, up from 17 in 2008, according to the report.
Although the alcohol-related crime numbers have increased in recent years, they are not entirely caused by Yale students. Highsmith said anyone caught on campus in violation of state liquor laws by the YPD — even those with no Yale affiliation — is counted in the report. She added that she knew of one individual without any ties to Yale who was arrested for drinking in a University parking lot.
Last fall, a week before Halloween, at least eight students were transported to medical facilities from the Safety Dance at Commons. The YPD at the time created a new police detail to increase surveillance of panhandling and public drunkenness. Although the Yale Police chief at the time, James Perrotti, said the detail was not established to monitor underage drinking and alcohol purchases, many students interviewed at the time said they or their friends were searched for alcohol by Yale police as they walked around campus.
Citations of alcohol infractions greatly increased during October and November weekends, according to crime log records. For instance, although Highsmith said last November that enforcement always increases in years when the Harvard-Yale football game is played at home, police cited three minors for possession at The Game last year while they issued only one citation during the entire month of November 2007.
To tackle the rise in alcohol-related incidents, the Yale College Dean’s Office recently hired a student affairs fellow, Ben Flores ’10, to direct University efforts to curb illegal drinking.