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Students question value of emergency phone boxes

Sept. 19, 2003

By Jordan Parrilla, reporter

In the late 1980s, 20 emergency telephone boxes, also referred to as blue lights, were installed throughout the Baylor campus in an effort to prevent crisis situations. However, some students who run the Bear Trail question the necessity of the emergency call boxes.

According to Baylor Police Chief Jim Doak, there is an average of 100 calls a year, and a majority of those are not made because of an emergency.

'In 2002, 163 total calls were made; 63 being false and 100 were related to criminal activity,' Doak said.

From June 1, 2002 to May 31, there were 15 assaults reported with 12 of them being minor disturbances, such as water balloon attacks, and no reported sexual assaults. A blue light was not activated in those circumstances.

The emergency boxes are not only for assault or harassment situations but also for occasions where a situation has gotten out of hand and further assistance is needed.

Brenda Smith, administrative police clerk, said that when someone pushes the button, it immediately rings the dispatcher at the Baylor Department of Public Safety.

'We can respond a lot quicker because we're right here on campus,' Smith said. 'We haven't had as many real calls, but the ones that were did help a lot with the harassment problems along the Bear Trail, and that is because police were there immediately.'

'The blue lights are in places where people would typically be, and I feel that gives students a higher level of comfort on campus,' Warren Ricks, director of risk management, said.

While safety officials and Baylor employees feel the blue lights promote safety, some students have a different opinion.

Lauren Losak, a Lancaster sophomore, said she doesn't feel safe on University Parks Drive near the Dutton Avenue Parking Garage and Office Complex.

'In an emergency situation my first response would not be to run to a blue light, but instead pull my cell phone off of my hip and call 911,' Losak said.