Lights in The Dark

By Cory Berlekamp
Email: berlekampc@findlay.edu
Twitter: @Cberlekamp
 
As fall semester gets underway, the campus is active with both fresh and familiar faces. For the fresh faces, blue lights around the University of Findlay could be a new sight but to the familiar, they are a sign of security in the night.
 
According to University of Findlay Police Captain, Steve Baum, these lights have been around since the department was created at the university. “When they gave us the O.K. to create the police department, we got a total of 44 of those code blues on main campus and on both farms,” said Baum.
 
Every year, UF Security checks where they might be lacking on campus.
 
“We are always reviewing and trying to analyze where we could add more if the funding was available to make the whole campus safer and everyone on campus safer as well,” Baum said. “Last year we added three. They were donated by certain colleges or organizations on campus but that put us up to the number that we are at now.”
 
These buttons are more than just a click and a checkup by a nearby security officer but is handled as an emergency phone call.
Our officers respond to those like a 9-1-1 (call) and what happens when that button is pushed that rings a direct call right in to our dispatch here at the safety office,” Baum said. “We have dispatchers and officers 24/7 so when they receive a call on those blue phones, it pops up on our computer screens, a map of the overhead view of our campus. It shows us where that call came from and then we respond accordingly.”
 
In the past couple of years, blue security lights usage has dwindled partly because of the use of cell phones according to Report Exec, an online tool for helping officers fill out reports faster.
 
In an article on the Report Exec website about the blue lights’ relevancy, the state that that some college campuses have started to remove them because of the cost to maintain them stating that a lot of their responses come from pranks. Baum sates that this can also be a problem on the UF campus.
 
“During the summer when we have camps, little kids they like to push them as they walk by them and it becomes an issue there,” Baum said. “That’s why we stress that you only use them for emergency situations because we do respond to them.”
 
Code Blue, one of the companies that manufacture the emergency stations, published a piece on their article on why the lights are still a beacon of security on campus. Among the reliability and the ability to have a pinpoint location of a call, they also state that financial burden is not as bad as other mobile apps that people would use.
 
“Blue light phones certainly require an upfront financial investment, but once they are installed the maintenance costs typically are very low,” Blue Code’s website states. “Mobile apps, however, can have a reoccurring fee that is due each semester and is based on campus
enrollment.”
 
Overall, Baum wishes for one thing this year.
 
“I hope everyone has a great year and I want everybody to remain safe, if you see
something, say something.”

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