Campus call boxes used sparingly


Lucas Koprowski

An out of order Emergency Call Box off of Park and Tallgrass at the College of DuPage on Dec. 8th, 2014.

Joash Mencias, Editor-in-Chief

The emergency call boxes dotting College of DuPage’s campus can serve as a lifeline or a tool for reporting crime. However, more often than not, the boxes are used to get help finding or jump starting a car.

According to Joe Girten, lieutenant of COD’s police department, most people have used the call boxes to request vehicle assistance.

The call boxes, also known as blue light phones, are also used sparingly.

“They are used from time to time, but not a real lot,” Girten said.

Between Feb. 1 and Dec. 1, 30 calls were made through the machines, according to Girten.

Instead of using the call boxes, many call the police on their cellphones or simply walk over to the police dispatch center in the Student Resource Center when they request help.

“In the age of smartphones, you would seem to think [call boxes] aren’t as necessary,” Girten said. “But they won’t go away. They’ll still serve a purpose.”

There are 51 call boxes on the Glen Ellyn campus. Activated by the push of a button, a call box allows police dispatchers to communicate with the person requesting help. On some call boxes, dispatchers can see the machines’ surroundings, as the button switches on a surveillance camera mounted on several call box poles.

Some of the call boxes display “out of order” signs from time to time. The Courier counted three call boxes on the main campus with “out of order” signs, at the time of publication.

Girten attributed call box disruptions to recent construction on campus and the machines’ battery life. Some of the call boxes are solar-powered, and an overcast day can diminish battery life.

The police department attempts to quickly fix malfunctioning phones and has a supply of batteries for the machines.

“They’re usually not out of service for very long,” Girten said.

Police officers test the call boxes every few weeks.

Emergency call boxes are a ubiquitous sight on many university campuses across the country and at other local community colleges such as Harper College and Joliet Junior College.