USCPD explores phasing out blue light system

USCPD is looking to prioritize use of an emergency contact smartphone app and phase out use of the blue light emergency system in the future, according to a presentation during student senate on Wednesday.

The idea came up during the senate meeting when Sarah Riesenberger, Student Government secretary of safety, said upcoming “Coffee with Cops” events would be important for raising student awareness about the Rave Guardian app.

“We’re moving away from the blue call boxes that we see around campus as a lot of them are out of order, so we’re really trying to hit heavy on promoting the Rave Guardian app as an alternative to that,” Riesenberger said.

The Rave Guardian app, which is free on both Apple and Android app stores, is an emergency services contact app which features a button for the immediate dial of local police authorities, a call directory for various emergency services and an anonymous tip line for reporting suspicious activity.

The Rave Guardian app is already an element of USCPD’s emergency resources, but has previously worked in conjunction with the blue light emergency system as a way of quickly contacting authorities.

Riesenberger said USCPD is looking towards phasing out the blue light system due to persistent disrepair issues and technical and financial difficulties that come with their repair.

“The way that they’re built into the ground that they’re actually standing on would require us to dig up huge portions of roads and things like that in order to fix them, so the feasibility of getting blue boxes fixed as they go out of order is very low,” Riesenberger said.

Kyle Lang, chair of the finance committee on Student Senate and third-year human resources student, spoke about the idea of phasing out the blue light emergency system.

“I’ve never used one; I’ve never seen one being used. I know that they very frequently appear to be broken or have the broken sign on it, and so I’m not exactly sure how effective they are,” Lang said. “If there’s data and statistics that say that no one uses these things and they just cost us money, I would be in favor of removing it.”

Questions arose surrounding the replacement of the blue light emergency system with the app, including concerns about students without smartphones, low phone battery and the comparative cost of removing all the blue light posts as opposed to replacing them. 

Riesenberger conceded that as the decision was still in a more exploratory phase, these questions were hard to answer definitively at the moment.

Speaker of the Senate Patrick Ellis described the conversation as ongoing because the goal is to keep students safe while also choosing a cost-effective solution. 

“I think it’s a conversation that needs to be addressed; I think there is a lot of utility in having those blue lights and I would love to see them stay, but something I know that USCPD has shared is very low usage rates,” Ellis said. “I do think that one call is worth keeping the infrastructure."

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