Officer David Hartman couldn’t officially tell New Haven how jammed-up downtown traffic was Monday morning—until he could arrive at work himself.
Hartman, the police department’s spokesman, said cops had their hands full steering cars through blocks of gridlock and semi-gridlock. A confluence of events contributed to the problem: Yale’s graduation (with blocks of Elm and York closed to cars), combined with regular rush-hour traffic, combined with extra graduation visitors driving into town due to a shutdown of Metro-North service from New York following Friday’s derailment and collision. Plus, utilities scheduled repair work in the area, and the state transportation department closed a Route 34 ramp to begin a new round of highway construction. (Don’t ask.)
Hartman left home at 8:35 a.m.—and didn’t arrive at work, two and a half miles away, until 9:15. “Admittedly, I saw the congestion ahead of me, and decided to try it anyway.”
According to Lt. Julie Johnson (pictured outside Yale’s Old Campus with Yale Assistant Chief Steve Woznyk), New Haven had 19 officers, including four on motorcycles, helping 30 to 40 Yale officers bear the brunt of frustrated motorists and direct cars away from blocked streets ...
... like Whalley at Dwight leading into Broadway, where Officer Raymond Bright and Elvin Rivera were maintaining calm.
Yale graduation-related events continue through Monday afternoon, so Hartman advised drivers to avoid the Elm-Broadway-York-High area. And he issued this official advice to the rest of us: “With thousands of out-of-state parents trying to find their way, those with regular business downtown should give themselves some extra time to reach their destination. We need to be ready, with a smile on our faces, to give helpful directions. This is an annual occurrence that we should be used to. Commencement visitors are sort of like our yearly version of the cicadas (The Ivy League Brood, if you will). Lets make their visit a pleasant one.”
Meanwhile, with cars cleared out of the campus area, it’s been a nice day to walk ...
... and bike.
In other police news, according to Hartman:
Jack-In-A-Trunk: A Guilford man “was heading to his car” at Chapel and East Streets shortly before midnight Sunday evening when he unlocked it with his key chain’s alarm button. “As the car unlocked, a man jumped out and with his car stereo in hand, took off running.” The Guilford car-owner ran after him, with the help of some other men. The pursuers caught up to the man and “pinned him to the ground.” Detectives, responding to a report of an “altercation,” arrived on the scene and arrested the alleged burglar, a 33-year-old West Haven man, on a variety of charges.
Nowhere To Run: A man was conducting business in a port-a-potty on the Upper Green at 1:15 p.m. when a man he knows as “Jay” “burst in,” “punched” him in the face, and “robbed him of $80 and 100 Xanex pills.”
“D-Block” Was Carrying: Police tried to stop—and then clashed with—a 27-year-old Fair Havener who rode his bike within the “safety perimeter” around a house-fire scene on Ferry Street at 8:20 p.m. Saturday, according to Hartman. The man, known as “D-Block” allegedly ignored orders to stop, then, when officers “closed in on him,” “‘violently’ shoved the bike out from under him at the officers.” Cops arrested him and “relieved him of a .40 caliber Smith & Wesson handgun ... loaded with hollow point bullets.”