After a campus-wide email was sent announcing two emergency blue light towers would be temporarily unavailable, the value of the system is being called into question.

From January 1, 2018 to October 23, 2019, University Police answered 793 calls from blue light phones, according to University Spokesperson Matt Lazier. None of the calls were a result of the blue lights’ intended use. 

“None of those [calls] were emergencies, and in the majority of cases, the caller did not say anything after the activation and no one was at the location when an officer arrived.”

Video by Lauren Walike

The phones are tested quarterly to ensure each one is fully operational, Lazier wrote.

Misuse of the blue light phones through pranking, harassing calls or false alarms is a crime by state statute according to the University Police Department website.

“If a call on one of these phones is made accidentally or as a joke, it does take officers away from their normal duties and could divert them from an actual emergency,” Lazier wrote.

Activating the phones is the same as calling 911. The blue light phones are to be used in instances where police, fire or medical assistance is needed. 

If a phone is accidentally activated, the caller should stay on the line to tell police and wait for an officer to arrive to confirm the call was not an emergency, Lazier said.

The blue light phones will continue to be active on campus in case of emergency situations. None of the blue light phones have been disconnected due to accidental activations or lack of use.

If a blue light phone has a non-operational sign, call 911 or UPD at 805-756-2281 for an emergency situation.

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