Why UGA Doesn’t Have Emergency Blue Lights

Have you ever seen emergency blue lights as you’ve walked around a college campus? Well, the University of Georgia doesn’t have them.

Greg Trevor, the executive director of media communications for the University of Georgia, said UGA “was one of the first campuses across the nation to install emergency call boxes. But, data show that these call boxes had become obsolete. Over the last eight years that the system was in use on the campus, police received no emergency calls through the boxes.”

These call boxes were installed at UGA from 1988 to 2004. According to the campus police website, the university considered purchasing new call boxes, but realized it would cost several hundred thousand dollars. Before making that financial commitment, it conducted research on the effectiveness of the call boxes and discovered the boxes had resolved no emergencies at UGA in the last eight years they were used.

According to the University of Georgia Police Department’s website, they cite Pew Center research that the number of cell phone users increased by more than 180 million from 1988 to 2004 nationwide.  Also, UGA police note on the site that “using cell phones to contact public safety personnel has become the new societal norm.”

Grady Newsource spoke with several UGA students about whether they felt safe on campus. Despite their perceptions of safety, all that we spoke with agreed that having blue lights on campus would make them feel safer.

Some students, like Zoe Hood, said she believed that even if blue lights aren’t effective, having them around would give students a sense of security.

“I think the blue light system implemented at UGA would provide students with a more secure feel,” Hood said.

As an alternative to the blue light system, UGA has offered a free mobile app called LiveSafe, that offers various safety features. Students can call or message campus police or call 9-1-1 directly through the app.

The app also includes a feature called “safe walk,” in which students can have their friends monitor their location as they walk through campus.

Sydney Heiberger is a senior at the University of Georgia pursuing a bachelor’s in journalism.



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