Public Safety partnering with Yale College on new response model

February 10, 2021

In the fall of 2020, Yale Public Safety made some procedural changes and piloted a differential response method. After the pilot’s first months, feedback from officers and the community continues to evolve this program. The second phase includes Yale security officers having an increased role in non-criminal complaints.

When planning for the second phase, Yale Public Safety partnered with the Kimberly Goff-Crews, Secretary and Vice President for University Life, the Yale College Dean’s Office, the Heads of College, and the Residential College Deans. “We’ve joined forces with the Heads of College and the Deans to co-produce public safety, a term Chief Ronnell Higgins has coined. We all need to collaborate on this for it to be successful,” said Duane Lovello, Director of Yale Security Operations.

A big part of this formula includes the Yale Community Compact that all returning graduate, professional, and undergraduate students must sign. This compact outlines the students’ responsibilities of contributing to campus life in a way that promotes the health and safety of all community members.

While this new response model is evolving, police officers will continue to respond to criminal complaints and be called upon if non-criminal issues escalate. The differential response approach takes police officers out of situations that don’t require them and attempts whenever possible to assign other resources to resolve problems successfully. The challenge lies in identifying these resources and being able to access them when they are needed. Alternative techniques can include handling non-critical calls, utilizing non-sworn employees, and increased telephone reporting.

Yale security officers will still respond to lockouts, access issues, and walking escort services. “We always try to be cordial and helpful while dealing with these other issues. Partnering with the residential colleges is key, and it has produced some great relationships and some great ideas as to how we move forward,” said Duane Lovello.

Initially, for noise complaints or over-maximum gatherings (most COVID-related), a team of trained Public Health Coordinators (PHC), comprised of Yale graduate and professional students, was dispatched for the first response. If they were unable to resolve it independently, they would call a security manager who would immediately respond to the scene and assist in resolving the situation. But that was a temporary situation, and while it worked well, a more permanent fix was needed. “This was a stop-gap measure that we implemented until a more holistic and permanent solution could be identified,” Duane Lovello.

“Our role is strictly to advise and gently remind students of regulations. Security officers are not there to apply discipline. If an issue continues and is not resolved, it is reported to the Executive Committee, who follow up with students when appropriate,” said Danny Killen, Associate Director of Security Operations.

The pilot was well-received by the students, who are taking seriously the community compact they signed. This reflects well on the Yale College Dean’s Office, who has done a great job communicating to the students regarding this evolving process. “It has been refreshing to see how the students are doing their best to comply. They want to be on campus and see their friends. They understand we are all in this together,” said Danny Killen.