Yale Leaders Respond to Criticism of Police Action

January 27, 2015

Yale University leaders sent an e-mail to the campus on Monday about the much-debated action of a university police officer to detain at gunpoint a black male student who was briefly suspected (based on his appearance) of being a thief. The student's father is a New York Times columnist who wrote about the incident on Twitter and in the Times, drawing widespread discussion and accusations of racial profiling. The e-mail Yale officials sent Monday distinguished between what happened at Yale and other recent incidents in which unarmed black men have been killed -- and the letter sought to separate the decision to question the student with the decision to do so at gunpoint.

"Let us be clear: we have great faith in the Yale Police Department and admire the professionalism that its officers display on a daily basis to keep our campus safe. What happened on Cross Campus on Saturday is not a replay of what happened in Ferguson; Staten Island; Cleveland; or so many other places in our time and over time in the United States. The officer, who himself is African American, was responding to a specific description relayed by individuals who had reported a crime in progress," said the e-mail. "Even though the officer's decision to stop and detain the student may have been reasonable, the fact that he drew his weapon during the stop requires a careful review. For this reason, the Yale Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit is conducting a thorough and expeditious investigation of the circumstances surrounding the incident, and will report the findings of that investigation to us. We, in turn, will share the findings with the community. We ask that you allow us the time needed to collect and examine the facts from everyone involved."

The e-mail was sent by Peter Salovey, Yale's president; Jonathan Holloway, dean of Yale College; and Ronnell Higgins, chief of the Yale Police Department.


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