Safety & Security in New Haven

April 22, 2009

M.T., 1L

For those students admitted to YLS over the past few months (congratulations!), the deadline to choose whether to enroll here or at another law school is quickly approaching. I remember last year that as I attended various admitted students programs, I started to think much more seriously about what it would mean to be a student actually living at each place – the very real concerns (Where will I live? What will I eat? How will I get around town?) of being a law student became more salient.

For YLS, one of the questions that always seems to be top-of-mind for admitted students still waffling over whether to come live in New Haven is about safety & security on campus and in the residential areas of the city. To be honest, for me safety wasn’t a huge concern in my decision-making – I had lived in DC and Baltimore for five years (yes, it really is kind of like “The Wire”), so I knew how to navigate an urban environment. Still, I wanted to know that I would be living somewhere that felt safe, and I wanted to be sure that Yale had supports in place to help students take advantage of everything that New Haven has to offer without feeling stifled by concerns about their safety.

Let me assure you first of all that tales you may have heard about New Haven being “unsafe” or “crime-filled” are drastically overblown; crime rates have decreased significantly since the 1990s, thanks in part to the combined efforts of the Yale and New Haven police forces. For example, the NHPD has taken a “community policing” approach, addressing small problems before they become bigger problems. In short, while yes, there still are some issues in New Haven, they are not unique from those of any other middle-sized or large city. So long as you’re aware of your surroundings and you use common sense (don’t walk alone at night in areas of the city you’re unfamiliar with, trust your instincts if a situation feels “off,” etc.), chances are you’ll never have a problem.

All that said, Yale provides a host of different security measures to make sure that students are safe. There are a number of free shuttles that follow routes throughout the various residential areas and the central academic campus – you can hop on and off anywhere, day or night. The Law School has its own dedicated shuttle that runs on the half-hour all evening and late into the night, which will drop you off right at your door. In the evening, there is a fabulous on-call shuttle system that takes you anywhere you need to go, on campus or off: you can get home from school, get a ride home from a friend’s place, or safely get to the grocery store and back. You can also call for a personal walking escort 24 hours a day, anywhere you need to go. Of course, there are also a ton of the emergency “blue phones” that are ubiquitous on college campuses; here, they extend into some of the residential areas where law students live, so if you ever feel unsafe you can have a police officer at your side within a minute.

In the end, I think it’s great that admitted students are thinking critically about all of the facets of life here at YLS, but I’d emphasize that safety & security concerns shouldn’t be a reason not to come to Yale. For former city-dwellers and small town residents alike, New Haven is an exciting, vibrant place to live.