Code Blue Safety Poles Out of Service

Hayley Lemery, Staff Writer

Code Blue Safety Poles have been out of service and pending repair in parts of housing, main campus and parking garages across the university, creating a shortage.

The poles were installed to allow students to have a quick way to alert campus police by pressing a button that will dispatch UPD to the exact location of the emergency. According to FGCU’s website, FGCU has over 100 code blue poles in various locations around campus including in parking lots and garages for easy access to UPD.

“When I got here in May, we began doing an evaluation of the code blue phones and their functionality and performance,” Chief of Police Kelli Smith said. “And in that, I realize and some of the technicians realized, that the technology platform that the Code Blue phones are on is a little bit outdated.”

University Police has been working with technicians to order new technology to replace the outdated technology.

“What I expect is that once the phones are fixed, and currently the ones that are operational, we will be checking at least once a month,” Smith said. “But if it can be feasible, it may be bimonthly.”

Since many of the poles are older models, it’s taking a while to find technology that will work efficiently with the current technology. Engineers will replace the equipment when it arrives.

“It’s important that they work in high traffic areas because when someone feels in danger, their first thought is to usually go to a well-known or lit area,” FGCU junior Claudia Kahl said. “Whenever I feel creeped out by something, my first thought is to go to somewhere more populated.”

While these repairs are still pending, UPD is encouraging students to use the RAVE Guardian app on their phones to contact them. The FGCU website says the RAVE system works by allowing users to “call University Police with the touch of a button.”

“And typically, we now moved and evolved to a situation where people use their cell phones,” Smith said. She also said the poles were first installed when the university opened.

In the case of an emergency, Smith said that people contact UPD with their cell phones rather than the Code Blue Safety Poles.

“When something happens and the physical safety option available is the poles and they aren’t working, I’m just worried we won’t have enough time to reach for our phones to call 911 in an emergency,” Kahl said.

According to the Naples Daily News, eight crimes were committed on FGCU property in 2019.

“Since our campus is an open campus, anyone can walk in, anytime of day, and not be stopped,” Jeremy Hewett, a Housing and Residence Life employee and FGCU student, said. “The poles give students a sense of protection if anything were to ever happen. Since some aren’t working, that sense of protection isn’t there.”

Campus police are continuing to take measures to ensure the safety of students and staff with operational safety equipment.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to start feeling safer on campus knowing that the blue poles are actually functioning like in case of an emergency,” Hewett said.

Smith predicts the Code Blue Safety Poles that are pending repair will be functioning properly within the next few weeks, depending on if the new technology operates correctly with the currently installed technology.

“We’re developing a long-term strategy for FGCU to see what we can do to utilize the best safety platforms available, market them, create awareness, and then also at the same time, be very fiscally responsible,” Smith said.