Campus police say Blue Light phones still helpful despite low usage

A blue light emergency phone lit up outside on Jan. 31 near Pearce Hall.

A resource to help students in times of emergency can be used at several locations on campus with just the touch of a button. 

Blue Light emergency phones, which are located at 28 locations around campus, allow students to immediately contact Central Michigan University Police Department. Since 2012 — when CMUPD started using a new record-keeping system — there have been 89 calls made to the police department. 

Of those calls, 63 were made on accident, were false alarms or otherwise inconsequential, Lt. Cameron Wassman said. The remaining 26 included: 11 medical emergencies where an ambulance was needed, 10 general-assistance situations, three car assistance situations and two fires.

"It's definitely a convenient way for people in an emergency to contact the police department," Marquette junior Courtney Fries said. "I've never had to use one, but I'm sure they come in handy for most people and especially for walking on campus at night. It makes people feel a lot safer."

Wassman said a majority of the calls were made for instances such as car troubles, and not life-threatening situations. 

“They are not used frequently,” Wassman said. “We still feel it’s important to have an extra option for people to have to make that call and get help when they need it.”

Wassman said the areas Blue Light phones are installed on campus are highly trafficked and places farther from the center of campus.

Each phone costs $1,000 to install, Wassman said. Parking Services staff check to make sure they work every other week during their routes.

The locations for the Blue Lights on campus can be found on the CMUPD's CMU webpage under the "Stay Safe! (Education and Prevention)" tab. 

Two of the 28 Blue Light phones were recently installed and aren't shown on the university map yet, Wassman said. One is located near the lacrosse facility, and the other is located near the CMU Research Corporation headquarters on 2625 Denison Drive.

More Blue Light phones, streetlights and cameras get added at new construction sites across campus.

"It’s being planned this summer that there is going to be a parking lot project on the corner of West Campus Drive and Broomfield Street," Wassman said. "I would suspect Blue Light phones are going to be included in that as well."

He also said that if students use a Blue Light phone on accident, they should just stay on the line and let the dispatcher know police are not needed. 

“If we don’t have anyone on the other end, we will send officers because we don’t know if it’s something legitimate or not,” Wassman said.

Though he hasn't had to use one during his time at CMU, Pontiac junior Taiah Pelt said the phones are a useful resource to have on campus.

"If you're in danger and want to hurry up and find a solution to your problem, they can help," Pelt said. 

In any sort of emergency, calling 911 is still the best way to reach the CMUPD, Wassman said. He also said it’s important to get information to the police as quickly as possible.

When it comes to effectiveness of the lights, Wassman said CMUPD is always willing to talk to students who feel that campus isn’t safe enough.

“We are always happy to take comments and suggestions,” he said. “If they were to call us and wanted to sit down and chat, we are more than happy to do that.”