The Yale Advisory Committee on Community Policing, formed after a white graduate student called the police on a black graduate student napping in a Hall of Graduate Studies common room, will now have two more seats for graduate students.
The May 2018 incident gained significant traction on social media and prompted the University to hold listening sessions to address student concerns. University President Peter Salovey announced the formation of the committee the following October in a campuswide email.
But the April shooting of Stephanie Washington by a YPD officer and the resulting protests reignited conversations about the relationship between the YPD, Yale and New Haven. In response, the Graduate Student Assembly and the Graduate and Professional Student Senate worked to increase collaboration with the YPD over the summer. GPSS President Hao Xing GRD ’22 and GSA President Lucylle Armentano GRD ’21 lobbied the community policing advisory committee to allot two spaces for a member of the GPSS and the GSA. The committee, which is comprised of Yale faculty, students and staff, previously had only one professional school member. The GSA will elect one committee member next Monday, and the GPSS will nominate someone at a later time.
“We had a number of students come to us wanting to express their feelings and perceptions,” Armentano said. “People looked for avenues within the university that already existed to have these conversations, and we found [the advisory committee on community policing].”
Last year’s shooting prompted conversations within the graduate students’ community about what community policing initiatives look like, Xing said. The GPSS has discussed community policing initiatives with YPD representatives over the past few months and sent a list of actionable items to the YPD yesterday that the GPSS hopes they will consider. Xing said that currently, graduate students feel very disconnected from YPD policing practices as they typically only correspond with the YPD through emails.
“We’d like to get familiar with the officers’ faces,” he added.
In November 2018, the YPD hired Martin Parker and Martha Cedeno-Ross, two full-time community engagement officers who work to build relationships with community members. The officers facilitate outreach through activities including charity events and busing programs to Yale sporting events.
GSA Service Co-Chair Megan Kelley GRD ’22 said that the members of the assembly have met with Parker and Cedeno-Ross to learn more about the identities of those in the Yale and New Haven communities who file police reports so that the community can develop “solution-oriented programs to target biases in students who are calling the police unfairly on civilians.” GSA leadership added that through their meetings with Parker and Cedeno-Ross, the community has been able to better understand some of the policies and the history of the YPD. They added that it was good to learn about the daily roles of the YPD such as knowing the extent of their routes and jurisdiction. Armentano said that the community engagement officers are great avenues for students to form personal relationships within the YPD.
“That way we know that if something happens, we have people we’ve formed a relationship with that we can talk to,” Armentano said. Among Armentano’s goals is trying to make sure that graduate students’ voices are a part of the conversation on community policing.
Parker said that in meetings with graduate student leadership, they discussed the HGS incident and the officer-involved shooting. He said that these open conversations represent “the relationship we’re trying to build.” Parker added that some of his goals for community building include trying to encourage students within the New Haven Public School system to get involved with the Yale and New Haven communities.
“We don’t pride ourselves on being perfect, we don’t pride ourselves on knowing everything, this is a way to facilitate the change that needs to happen on our end, so we can grow together to become the community we should and could be,” Parker told the News.
The Yale Advisory Committee on Community Policing convened for the first time in October 2018.
John Besche | firstname.lastname@example.org .