Due to the later kickoff and high-profile nature of the event, security forces will be on high alert Saturday afternoon when thousands of students and alumni flood into the Bowl for this year’s Harvard-Yale football game.
The Yale Police Department, New Haven Police Department, West Haven Police Department, Connecticut State Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and New Haven’s Office of Emergency Management are all coordinating to ensure that the expected 40,000 to 50,000 students and alumni in attendance are kept safe. Although no students interviewed expressed concern for their safety this weekend, Deputy Vice President for Human Resources and Administration Janet Lindner said in an email to the News that security plans remain a high priority.
“For over a decade, these plans have included threat assessments and plans are developed accordingly,” Lindner said. “This year will be particularly complex because The Game will be played later in the day than it usually is.”
This year, The Game will start later in the afternoon as opposed to at noon, with the second part of the game taking place after sunset.
Similar to Commencement, Lindner said, the security details for The Game are just one part of coordinating the largescale event. She added that specifics of the security details are kept confidential.
New Haven Police Department spokesman David Hartman explained that though the City of New Haven plans for other high-capacity events during the year, such as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the Labor Day Road Race, the Harvard-Yale game is always a bit different. This is mainly due to the large number of high-profile alumni that come to the game, some of whom require additional security measures. Hartman noted that there will be dignitaries at The Game on Saturday, but because of security reasons, could not divulge who.
Hartman added that in light of recent global terrorist attacks, the police are concerned with making sure that people feel safe. He acknowledged the need to address public anxiety following the attacks in Paris, and other global cities. On Nov. 13, in response to the recent terrorist attacks in Paris and other cities across the globe, Hartman said in an email that NHPD has asked all its officers to be on high alert, despite the fact that there are no specific, credible threats to the City of New Haven.
One notable difference between this year and previous years will be the presence of metal detectors that guests will have to walk through before entering the Bowl. Additional measures will be taken to restrict what guests can bring into the grounds, but Hartman explained that these measures stem from a death that occurred at the Yale-Harvard student tailgate four years ago.
Ethan Brill ’16 said the death four years ago was more concerning to him than recent security threats, including an unfounded bomb threat earlier this week at Harvard.
None of the 15 students interviewed said they were concerned about security around the game because of the global terrorist attacks that happened this week. Five students said they had not heard of the bomb threat at Harvard on Monday, and 10 said they were still not concerned about security despite that incident.
“I think because there’s so much enthusiasm and excitement around the game, that’s not really the first thing you think of,” Azan Virji ’17 said.
There will be around 130 NHPD officers at the event, which is roughly equivalent to other major events such as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. YPD did not respond to a request for comment .
Hartman explained that many of his officers will not only be doing their assigned jobs, but will also be looking out for any suspicious activity.
“Their eyes need to be open even wider,” Hartman said. “If you’re on a traffic post, you’re not just policing traffic.”
New Haven’s Office of Emergency Management will also have an emergency action plan, Hartman said, which is something that also happens for other major events in New Haven.
New Haven and Yale’s bomb squad will also be present at the event this Saturday. Hartman explained that this happens every year. He said that the bomb squad has to clear not only the Bowl before The Game, but also the surrounding area as well.
“There’s a lot of ground to cover to ensure people’s safety,” Hartman said.