New call boxes follow recent hate crimes at university
As a response to the #BlackUnderAttack demonstration on Feb. 22, the UC Davis Police Department has promised to increase campus safety by implementing a new call box program in isolated areas on campus.
Seven of these call boxes will be installed in the Arboretum, and one will be installed on the bike path that passes over from West Village to Highway 113.
According to UC Davis Chief of Police Matthew Carmichael, the call boxes are designed to offer easy access to the UC Davis dispatch center with the simple hit of a button.
“We’re utilizing the newest technology for you, our students,” Carmichael said. “The arguments against call boxes is that everyone has a cell phone. That’s not true. Some people don’t take their cellphone when they decide to go out for a run in the Arboretum, so we’re implementing this new program in a smart manner.”
Carmichael also said that the call boxes have video features that will help the police department more easily identify who is related to a particular incident.
“Each call box will have a video station attached to it, so we can also see real time what’s going on if the need arises,” Carmichael said. “It is my intent that we will have these [eight boxes] installed by May 10.”
In 2011, UC Davis eliminated all 107 of its emergency call boxes because of their lack of use. The call boxes costed approximately $36,000 annually to maintain and about $70,000 to remove. Carmichael did not respond to how much the new call boxes will cost to operate.
In addition to this plan, the police department hosted a safety walk on March 9 to gain input from students about vulnerable areas on campus that need better lighting.
According to a press release, several teams who searched for lighting problems around campus found a total of 60 lights that were not working, seven areas where plants needed trimming and six suggested areas for additional lighting.
In the same press release, fourth-year medical microbiology major Kirat Sandhu said she is glad UC Davis is checking the lights, as she stays on campus late.
In an effort to increase trust between students and police, Carmichael has directed students to address their concerns about potential police misconduct to the Police Accountability Board (PAB). This board is made up of students and faculty members who represent the Graduate Student Association, ASUCD, Academic Affairs and other organizations.
According to PAB member Awais Khalid, a fifth-year environmental toxicology and political science major who represents ASUCD, students can report their concerns to the Office of Compliance on pab.ucdavis.edu. The case will be reviewed by PAB to seek out the best course of action before being reported to the chief of police.
Khalid said that the call boxes are a good first step in combatting the ongoing hate crimes on campus, but are not enough to prevent them.
“In my estimation, the call boxes are necessary [for increasing campus safety], but not sufficient,” Khalid said. “We need another component: we need education and we need outreach. There’s a huge disconnect between the police department and the student population.”
Chief Carmichael has future plans to meet with students to gain input on areas for future call boxes.
“We will start the meeting with students in mid-May on the call box project,” Carmichael said in an email. “Students are important partners as they provide true insight into how they use campus resources. It is important for us to know from students the areas they most travel and what current needs are.”
Written by: Julian Leus – firstname.lastname@example.org