Use of Force
Recent incidents of anti-black violence and injustice across the country underscore the corrosive effects of systemic racism in our society and the fear and lack of trust that many people feel on a daily basis toward police. The Yale Police Department is committed to serving all members of our community and to treating everyone with respect and dignity. However, any incident that happens at the university is rightly viewed with the knowledge that people of color experience racism, prejudice, and discrimination in communities across the nation.
The Yale Police Department is dedicated to fostering a culture of transparency and accountability, and to being open to new ways of providing public safety. I am providing the Use of Force Annual Report and will release this information annually in the interest of maintaining open communications with our community.
As this report makes clear, use of force within the Yale police department has been infrequent.
We include the witnessing or use of force above unresisted handcuffing in our use of force reporting. Yale police officers seek to de-escalate situations and problem solve. They also have the duty to report any excessive use of force by an officer that they observe.
Yale police officers are trained to protect the life of those we serve, and to use only the amount of force necessary and reasonable to control a situation, make an arrest, overcome resistance to arrest, or defend themselves or others from harm. What is critically important in any police use of force incident is accountability. Any Yale police officer involved in an encounter with an application of force is reviewed on five levels. These reviews include the shift supervisor, shift commander, division head, assistant chiefs, and finally, the chief. Serious offenses are brought to Yale’s Police Review Board, comprised of Yale community members outside of the police department. Officers who use excessive or unjustified force degrade the confidence of the community we serve, undermine the legitimacy of police authority, and hinder the department’s ability to provide effective law enforcement services to the community. Officers who use excessive or unauthorized force are subject to discipline, including possible criminal prosecution.
Yale’s longstanding policies incorporate national best practices. In addition, the Yale Police Department remains committed to enhancing its policies as best practices evolve.
Yale police officers could work for any municipal department in the state, but we chose to serve here because of our commitment to Yale’s mission. To ensure we are serving our campus community to the best of our abilities, we take additional training throughout our careers at Yale.
If you would like to meet with us, share ideas, or make a complaint, you can do so through this website. I look forward to continuing to work with you, and I hope you will not hesitate to reach out to me or any of my fellow officers if you have questions, concerns, or suggestions.
Ronnell A. Higgins
Director of Public Safety & Chief of Police