The University of Memphis is improving safety by installing more Code Blue phones around campus.
Bruce Harber, director of public safety and Police Services, said that the university has continued to add phones to decrease crime on campus and to ensure that students feel safe while commuting to and from school.
“When I came here from the Memphis Police Department, I thought if we had great crime numbers that are low, everything would be great, but that’s only half the battle,” Harber said. “The other part is making sure people feel safe, so the phones help with that.”
Harber added that there are currently 42 phones spread out across campus, but the school will continue to add them each year, as long as proper funding is provided.
“They are expensive. They run around $10,000 to $15,000 a piece,” he said.
“They really are outdated, redundant technology now because we can pick up a cell phone. They were really big when they started being installed in the '70s and '80s before mobile phones existed,” he said. “What we’ve done to eliminate part of the redundancy is update the technology. The new ones now have cameras on the top of them."
"We use a lot of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design techniques," he added. “An area where you feel safer, a criminal opportunist feels more at risk. If you feel good, the emergency phones are lit and the blue lights are visible, a criminal is not as likely to commit the crime.”
Dereck Bridgewater, a senior theatre major, said the phones are dated and unreliable.
"The blue phones on campus are not dependable. It takes forever for someone to actually reach an operator. There needs to be a quicker and more efficient way for the school to monitor the safety of students," Bridgewater said. "More security guards in certain areas of the school at night would help."
Harber said the phones aren’t used frequently. The last time one was utilized was for a medical emergency.
“It was helpful for the dispatcher to see the woman through the camera and assist her better,” Harber added.