Call boxes still serve purpose

The use of emergency call boxes has decreased among students as cell phone usage has increased in the past few years. (Photo by Jenn Allen)

With an increased use of cell phones, the emergency call boxes around University campuses have only been used a handful of times for what they are intended for, officials said.

Students often use their cell phones in emergencies rather than use the call boxes, which students typically use to see if the device works then take off.

“Since I’ve been at ASU, I can only think of a handful of times that someone’s used them in an actual emergency,” ASU Police Cmdr. Jim Hardina said.

ASU installed emergency call boxes at various spots around the Tempe campus in the ‘80s.

Despite the lack of use in recent years, David Anaya, chief of staff for the Undergraduate Student Government West, said the call boxes are still important devices to have on college campuses.

“I think that it definitely is still an essential part of campus safety,” he said. “Not only is it a campus deterrent (for crime) … it’s also there as a system for people to use in case a cell phone didn’t work.”

Hardina said using a cell phone is more versatile, but cell phones and call boxes are equally effective as far as response time goes. He said the call boxes provide a more specific location on where to respond.

Graphic design sophomore Juana Rivera said around 2 a.m. in April, 2011, a homeless man tried to grab her while she was riding her bike from College of Design South to Hayden Hall.

When she tried to report the incident to University Police from an emergency call box, they were unresponsive after she tried multiple times to get through to the police.

Rivera said she was extremely frightened during the incident and “was just really mad” that police did not respond right away.

Hardina also said University Police is always looking for better ways to prevent crime on all campuses and knows that one day the call boxes will become obsolete and new technology will emerge.

“Call box technology is evolving and eventually they’ll go away,” Hardina said. “You have to see if it’s effective and how we can enhance it.”

Students could also call ASU Safety Escort Services at night, where volunteer escorts, police officers or a police aide will take anyone to their destination for free and the service is available at all campuses.

Anaya said USGW is in the planning stages of recruiting personnel for their Safety Escort Service rather than only using ASU Police.

USGW is looking to increase their campus safety efforts to prevent future crimes as their student population grows and amenities increase around the campus, Anaya said.

Rivera said she still goes home late at night but has someone walk her home or frequently calls for an escort.

The Safety Escort Service can be reached by calling (480)-965-1515.

 

Reach the reporter at sraymund@asu.edu

Click here to subscribe to the daily State Press newsletter.