University Police (UP) Chief Richard Trende has looked at the removal of the emergency phones on campus, both for reasons of them not working, and not being placed strategically around campus.
“We’ve removed a couple lights that don’t work, and especially if there’s that redundancy of them being too close. What’s really happened on campus is that there are so many people that have cell phones and when these lights first started to be installed that wasn’t the case,” Trende said. “That’s why we’ve been looking at what areas really need to have them available.”
Students walk past these emergency phones every day on campus.
According to the UP page on the UW-River Falls website, there are 20 emergency phones on campus.
However, according to the most recent campus directory and map of UWRF, there are only nine emergency phones on campus.
The emergency phones should be utilized whenever students need help in an emergency situation, if they are in fear or needing assistance, according to the UWRF website. Officers are alerted, and the time that it takes them to report to the scene varies.
“When people use the phone, it goes directly to our emergency communication center which is the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, so it’s the time between them getting the call and them notifying our officer,” Trende said.
There has been talk throughout the years about the phones around campus being out of order. Alyson Heroff is a sophomore at UWRF and has noticed certain emergency phones being inoperative.
“One phone that I noticed a while ago that was broken was in the N lot parking lot, the wires were everywhere,” Heroff said. “The emergency lights at UWRF should be working all the time. There isn’t an excuse to why they sometimes don’t work. It makes me feel unsafe.”
The emergency phones are not the only safety concern on campus. The trail behind Hathorn Hall that goes by the Amphitheatre is also a worry for students.
“Most of the time I feel very unsafe walking on the trail that goes over the bridge behind campus. I live in the apartments that are by that trail and most of the time I will not walk anywhere at night or walk back alone because someone could follow me or assault me in the dark at any time on that path,” Heroff said. “Most nights they leave the amphitheater light on and that is better than nothing.”
UP’s goal is to put lights on that trail and in other areas that are lacking them. Until then, Trende encourages people to find alternative routes.
“The main trail that goes to Hunt and Knowles does have lights, but the back path beyond that does not,” Trende said. “Typically, people are not encouraged to use that as a primary route and to take a path through campus that has lighted areas. We still encourage that until we have lights on that path.”
Cameras in all parking lots, as well as trails, are also a priority once UP gets the funds to do so.
“We would like more cameras as of yesterday, but we need to do them within budget,” Trende said.
Until lights, cameras and emergency phones have been put on dark trails around campus, UP is encouraging people to stay safe and be alert.
“We have a campus safety walk, where we walk around campus at night identifying where lights are not working. Officers also routinely walk patrol these routes and look for other problems,” Trende said. “We eliminate the opportunity as much as possible for something bad to happen, and we’re just trying to teach people to look at their surroundings and be cautious.”