James Post

The Yale Police Department SWAT Team and Yale Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Undergraduate Association sponsored an American Red Cross blood drive this Wednesday.

The blood drive was organized by YPD Sergeant and SWAT Team Leader Christopher Halstead, who also serves as the ROTC liaison within the YPD. Halstead worked with the Naval ROTC to publicize and run the event, which was held at the YPD Headquarters at 101 Ashmun St. In the five hours the drive was open, 40 people came to donate blood.

“One objective of the department and of the SWAT team is just to put us out there in the community a little more,” Halstead said. “And I guess it’s not often that we have events as a department among the Yale community.”

Halstead, a regular blood donor, said he chose to run a blood drive because of the high demand for blood in the area. The American Red Cross reports that someone in the U.S. needs blood every two seconds. A single victim from a car accident may need as many as 100 pints of blood — an amount that would require the contributions of more than 100 blood donors.

YPD Lieutenant Joseph Vitale said YPD Chief Ronnell Higgins is pushing to get the department more involved in the Yale community. Creating the role of ROTC liaison was part of this push, said Halstead, who began his role last year. The YPD also has liaisons to serve as middlemen between residential life, Greek life, Yale and the department.

“We’re a police department but we’re kind of ingrained in the university,” Halstead said. “We have a smaller community than New Haven does for the New Haven Police Department. So we’re trying to get a little more active in it.”

Lily Sands ’18, Yale NROTC undergraduate community service chair, said the drive supplemented the service work the NROTC already does. The group works at Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen approximately once a month, participates in Dwight Hall service events and conducted a Habitat for Humanity build last year.

Gabrielle Fong ’16, Yale NROTC undergraduate battalion commander, added that participation in service events augments the overall purpose of the NROTC.

“Yale NROTC midshipmen choose to make service to the community a priority because the very nature of joining the military is based in service,” Fong said in a written statement. “Community service and philanthropy remind us that our jobs after graduation will not be to serve ourselves, but to serve others … We hold ourselves accountable by committing to be active members in the Yale and New Haven communities.”

Halstead said he hopes to conduct another, larger blood drive in the future. He said he will seek to get other SWAT teams involved.

Roughly one pint of blood is given during a donation. The average adult has about 10 pints of blood in their body.