Dear Members of the Yale Community,
The last week have been tough for our community. The recent events at Elevate Lounge have shaken us, and hopefully awakened us to a larger conversation that’s taken place been taking place in New Haven for the last few years: community policing.
You can watch Season 4 of The Wire for a great example, but in short, community policing is based on the premise that officers should work with the community to solve crimes. Police are always more effective when they can rely upon the willing cooperation of local residents. And that trust requires effort from both sides. It needs community partners who are willing to come forward with information that can help police solve crime. And it must have police officers who enter difficult situations and begin their work by defusing tensions and listening to the people whom they serve.
One way you can get involved with this process is to join our local management team. In the downtown and every neighborhood in New Haven, the community management teams provide opportunities for citizens to work together with officers of the New Haven Police Department. These face-to-face interactions are integral in building the trust that is so fragile in our communities. In building contacts and teaching our citizens, the NHPD is better and more effective in doing their job. In August, our own Downtown-Wooster Square Community Management Team, along with the Wooster Square Block watch, celebrated National Night Out at the Substation on the Green with local officers. Over 60 residents turned out that evening to meet with our public servants, thank them, and learn from their experiences on how to build stronger, safer neighborhoods.
But aside from the management teams, think about how you interact with officers more broadly. Talk to community members, and ask them if they feel comfortable sharing information with police officers, or coming to them for help. If the answer to these questions is no, then we have a problem on our hands. I’ll be working with students to have a forum to explore these questions in the coming day and weeks. Join me in considering this issue, and please let me know what you think.
New Haven Ward 1 Alderman