Emergency campus Blue Lights are going blackout

Karissa Gaughan1851 Staff

As of Wednesday, April 27 the main Emergency Blue Light call box next to Carpenter House remains unfunctional. Many students on campus notice the big blue poles while walking around, and also notice that a piece of paper, once labeling it “Out of Order,’’ seems to have gone missing from the side at one point. It’s meant to instill a sense of safety in the campus community, but the campus Blue Light call boxes have a history of not working.

Lieutenant Steven Bradley of Lasell Campus Police says he has been responsible for the management of the Emergency Blue Light system for a little over three years. “I oversee as far as making sure that the officers go and test them. We test every other week to make sure that they are all operational,” Bradley says. As the Blue Light coordinator and liaison, he works directly with their contractor, Securidime, as well as Lasell IT when officers find issues.

Most of the call boxes when used will directly connect to campus dispatch, but only when they are operational. Senior Isabelle Snow recalls her first night walking across campus as a Sophomore transferring in from Mount Ida in August of 2018. “I was walking and there was this creepy guy kinda over there … I cut through the pathway towards Winslow, the Library, behind [Carpenter House]… I walked by the call box and noticed that none of the lights were on … there was a sign on it that said out of order,” said Snow. “So I called my boyfriend and I was on the phone with him, he kept telling me to walk by the call boxes just in case because he wasn’t near me … each call box I passed had a little note that said out of order and I was like that’s weird, that’s a really weird experience.”

Since her experience in 2018, the out- of-order notices she describes on the sides of the call boxes have since disappeared. With a long history of the call boxes having operational issues, most on campus seem to now be fully operational; all except for the main Blue Light call box Snow described in her story.

Wiktor Jozwik, head of the information technology department (IT), says generally they are not in charge of the Emergency Blue Light system on campus. Jonathan Gorham, the CIO who oversees IT, also mentioned it falls under the purview of campus police. “Campus police do their checks… Where IT gets involved is just the connectivity. So if the signal to the call boxes is broken down, malfunctioning, IT would get involved on the infrastructure side of that.” Jozwik said.

Jozwik says that campus police reach- es out on a regular basis about the Blue Lights not working to get them fixed.

The last test they conducted was April 15th. According to Bradley, the call box mentioned in Snow’s story last worked “Maybe about six weeks ago, give or take.” Admittedly, he says problems have shown up with this particular call box in the past, but estimates it will be repaired again in a month.

Campus Police is looking into other options that are more reliable, accessible and safer for students to use on campus. “We are working with Securidime and they have one that they’ve been researching and brought to our attention [is an app] called Livesafe,” Bradley says. “The biggest factor is gonna be its functionality to what we do here on campus, as well as its compatibility with working with our IT department.”

Some features of the app include directly calling campus dispatch, a GPS function, and creating a small circle of friends where if users feel uncomfortable in a situation, they can automatically notify said friends of their current location.

Though our on-campus security system has not been up to par, Bradley acknowledges, “as with anything it’s an older system and not only do you have to look at reliability but also if it’s an emergency situation, we want students to get out of it and get away.” Looking into the future, he agrees students will feel much safer with an updated campus security system.

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