Statement from Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins

After review of the facts around the call and the police response to the incident at HGS on May 8, I wanted to share a summary of what happened. Our police officers and I feel strongly that Yale policing cannot be excellent unless our work is inclusive and respectful of everyone we come in contact with. We look forward to continuing to work with faculty, staff and students to support all members of the Yale community.

Yale Police responded to a call in the early hours of Tuesday, May 8 at 1:40 a.m. The caller reported that she was a student at Hall of Graduate Studies (HGS) and said that there was a woman sleeping in the Common room on the 12th floor and that she did not know who the person was. Three police officers responded to HGS around 1:45 a.m. where the caller met them at the entrance and showed them her ID. She then let them up in the elevator, which stopped at the fifth floor where another student appeared.  

At this point, the caller pointed to the other student and said, “This is her.” The protocol is for police to separate the parties involved, so two officers stayed with the woman on the fifth floor and the investigating officer went with the caller to the 12th floor.

The investigating officer spent over 11 minutes initially with the caller to assess the situation, while the other two officers spent about 15 minutes with the other woman to assess the situation and to confirm her identity.  After reviewing the scene in the 12th floor common room and seeing a computer, books and notebooks in addition to a blanket and pillow on the couch, the investigating officer determined that the person who had been sleeping in the common room was likely a student, so the officer asked the caller to wait in her room on the 12th floor.

The investigating officer reported what she found to the other two officers on the fifth floor and a supervisor who had arrived to assess the situation and determine whether assistance was needed. The officers were having a difficult time confirming the other student’s identification due to the use of a preferred name in the system that was different from the official name on the ID. The supervisor worked with dispatch and security to clear up the matter, taking down the student’s information and giving her a case number. The assessment of the ID took about 15 minutes, which is longer than usual.

At that point, the investigating officer, with her supervisor, went to the 12th floor where they spoke to the caller again for another seven minutes. Another officer also followed. They informed the caller that the student who had been in the common room was an authorized resident and had every right to be there. They also explained that this was not a police matter and were reporting the incident to the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.  Officers left HGS Studies at about 2:34 a.m.

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