Campus police: Blue emergency lights are a vital campus resource

The blue light phones connect students and campus visitors to the K-State Police Department and Wildcat Walk. If you feel uncomfortable walking on campus alone, a security escort will walk you to another on-campus location or up to two blocks off campus. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

If you’ve ever walked on campus after dark, you may have noticed blue emergency beacons lit up in certain areas.

These blue emergency lights are phone boxes monitored by the K-State Police Department.

According to the campus police website, the 52 phone boxes allow for “quick access to emergency services,” as well as a place to ask for directions or to report a crime or accident.

The emergency light system alerts campus police when a call is made from one of the phones. The department then calls that location, and if there’s no answer, dispatches an officer to the site.

While some students may think the phones aren’t used very often, campus police support services coordinator Lt. Bradli Millington said the department receives a decent number of calls every year.

The 2019 Clery Report shows 97 total crimes were committed on campus between 2016 and 2018, excluding arrests and referrals. Campus police received even more calls from the emergency phones.

In 2017 and 2018, people used the phones 172 times. So far in 2019, campus police received 43 calls, Millington said.

The blue light phones connect you to the campus police and the Wildcat Walk Service. If you feel uncomfortable walking on campus alone, a security escort will walk you to another on-campus location or up to two blocks off campus. Nov 20, 2019. (Dylan Connell | Collegian Media Group)

While he said he is unsure how many of these calls reported crimes, Millington said the phones “serve as an important resource for the K-State community in case of emergency.”

Kelsie McFadden, junior in secondary education, made one of the calls in 2017.

“I was a freshman, and I was super lost,” McFadden said. “I was trying to get to Bluemont [Hall] for a group project, and it was dark and I knew the police department was supposed to be able to help, so I called and asked. I was on the complete wrong side of campus, but they got me where I needed to go.”

McFadden said while her call wasn’t an emergency, she is glad the phones are on campus in case of a more serious situation.

Earlier this semester, several of the phones were temporarily non-operational.
A similar situation occurred in March 2015 when construction projects on campus rendered multiple phones non-functional, according to a K-State Today announcement.

Parker Ost, junior in finance, said he was disappointed by the lack of response by the university in notifying students or repairing the lights.

“I noticed the light immediately south of the business building had been out for a few weeks throughout October,” Ost said. “I had hoped that its repair would be more of a priority for the administration considering it makes many students here on campus feel safer, especially with the sun going down sooner in the fall and winter months.”

The light has since become operational.

More information about the blue light emergency phones can be found on the campus police website, and their locations can be found in the LiveSafe app.