UPD reflects on campus security following multiple breaches


Photo courtesy of Charger Bulletin/Tyler Wells

The University Police Department sign, West Haven, Sept. 18, 2022.

As students returned from their first day of classes on Aug. 29, they were hit with an announcement from the University of New Haven’s automated safety messaging system. This alerted the university community that a student was robbed at knifepoint on Ruden St., just off of Main Campus.

This was the second armed robbery in the last year. A little after midnight on Dec. 5, 2021, two university students were held at gunpoint and robbed outside of the C-Store. The suspect, according to the university police department (UPD), arrived and fled from the scene in a stolen car. The robbery shook the university community, sparking conversation and worry about safety on and around campus.

Then, on Sept. 8, another issue occurred when an unknown man was seen walking through various unlocked campus buildings and eventually in Harugari Hall, where he stole a professor’s wallet from their office.

Chief of the UPD Adam Brown spoke on campus safety following the wallet theft, saying that the man entered four university buildings. When asked what changes have been made to better ensure the safety of students, he said, “​​The University continues to have patrols on and around campus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

The university has increased their mobile patrols as well, with officers on bikes and golf carts monitoring campus and the immediate surrounding roads. The redesign of parking around the Dunham and Westside parking lots was also done in part for safety, limiting the access points to campus and making it more streamlined through UPD-manned checkpoints.

However, Brown said that the university would not disclose such changes publicly for safety reasons.

“For the protection of our campus and our University community, and based on best practices across law enforcement, we do not divulge publicly information about our campus patrols or comprehensive security plans,” he said.

The responses to such incidents have drawn criticism from students as well, especially for the incident on campus last December.

“Upon receiving any type of emergency call, our sworn officers immediately respond to assess a situation and investigate,” Brown said, and would not elaborate further.

“We continually examine and assess all public safety protocols,” he said. “We encourage anyone to contact UPD if they witness something on or near campus that is out of the ordinary.”

Chief Brown did however clarify that UPD works closely with the West Haven Police Department (WHPD) in support of one another to ensure quick response to any incidents in the area. WHPD did not respond to an interview request.

While the city of West Haven has gotten a poor reputation for crime among students, its statistics lay below national averages. For violent crimes, the city has about half the national average in the same categories. Robberies, for example, happen 60.5 times per 100,000 residents, whereas the national rate is 135.5.

In the state of Connecticut, a person has a 1-in-558 chance of being a violent crime victim, while someone in West Haven has a 1-in-639 chance. For the most part, West Haven is a safer community than many assume.

The general crime rate has also seen a steady decline since the 2008 recession, showing decreases until 2018. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to an increase in crime rates across the country largely due to the loss of jobs.

The University of New Haven is also not the only institution that has to deal with issues of local crime. American International College, located in Springfield, Mass., has dealt with multiple instances of gunfire around campus, even with bullets hitting university buildings.

Even bigger schools, such as the University of Southern California, deal with local crime. The university reported 7.74 incidents per 1,000 students, even as their campus is primarily fenced off from the surrounding areas. Campus safety continues to be an issue everywhere, and the University of New Haven is another trying to figure out how to make the surrounding areas safer.

Brown reminded the community that “No one, regardless of the setting they are in or the protections and precautions in place, is immune to the impact of crime,” and encouraged all individuals to be vigilant.