UWF Emergency Blue Lights provide additional security on campus

By Spenser Garber

Contributing Writer

light

UWF Emergency Blue Light Pole #45 located north side of 58A.
Photo by Spenser Garber.

If you find yourself in need of emergency assistance while on campus, go to the “blue light.”

The Emergency Blue Light poles and wall-mounted boxes seen around the University of West Florida campus exist to help boost safety. The poles and boxes are easily identified by a strobe light, white paint and large red letters spelling out “EMERGENCY.”

The poles are innovative in campus safety. A box is fixed on every pole containing a red button with direct contact to the UWF Police Department dispatcher. Also, if the side of the pole is struck, the tamper alarm is activated and will alert the UWF PD and an officer will respond immediately.

Sixty-three blue lights are “strategically located…in parking lots and jogging areas, on walkways, and near classrooms,” according to the UWF Police web page. For the campus location of each blue light, check the UWF Blue Light map.

The blue lights are for the express purpose of student safety. If you feel unsafe in a parking lot at night, or see something suspicious, you can activate a nearby blue light pole and request an officer to escort you to your vehicle. Also, if someone is chasing you, you can run from one pole to another, striking the pole, and the UWF PD will respond and be able to track your movement using the activated blue light alarms.

According to UWF Crime Prevention Officer Kyle Gallagher, the blue light alarms were activated 23 times last month (January 2016). Six times people either needed assistance in parking lots or students needed directions. One activation was to report an accident. Sixteen activations were false alarms and are suspected to be the result of purposeful tampering or curiosity.

With a cost of around $7,000 per pole, this investment has been a useful one. The poles and wall-mounted boxes are checked weekly by the police and quarterly by UWF maintenance.

The Emergency Blue Light poles were installed in the early 1990s after a nationwide trend to enhance public safety at universities. When asked about the future of the program, Gallagher said, “We are always exploring new possibilities.”

Do the Emergency Blue Lights make you feel safer on campus? Facebook the Voyager your comment.