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Emergency towers to be installed by this fall

Kat Simonelli
Assistant Editor

Campus safety is working with Capital Planning to add Wide Area Emergency Broadcast System, or WEBS, towers on campus, starting with one in D Lot this semester.

These towers, also called “Blue Lights,” will provide students with the opportunity to be in immediate contact with campus safety in the event of an emergency.

“The purpose of bringing WEBS to campus is to just make sure that people have access to getting assistance from us in the event that they see something or something is going on around them, they can get in touch with us right away,” said Stanley Skipworth, director of campus safety and transportation.

The WEBS towers can also be used to broadcast live or recorded messages throughout the campus in the event of an emergency or disaster situation.

“We’ve had a lot of good feedback for it like last year, for example when Cal State Fullerton had that incident with the shooter, the Blue Lights were on and they were able to communicate to announce it and shut down the whole campus and it was all taken care of,” capital planning project manager Larry Pirkle said.

Some additional features of the WEBS system include an attention getting blue LED light on top of the tower that will flash when a call is made and high power speakers that can provide a large amount of coverage.

Though some may argue that the WEBS system may seem irrelevant due to the wide use of cell phones today, there is a large window of opportunity for cell phones to falter where the WEBS system would not.

“Sometimes cell phone batteries die out or the signal gets interrupted, so were just trying to take advantage of putting those out there and expand our already existing number of emergency phones and help each other out in that regard,” Skipworth said.

“We’ve contacted other campuses, and many of them have gone away from adding blue lights because of cell phones, but in recent years we’ve gotten more and more feedback that students would like to have them on campus and our community would like to have them, so we have begun the process of bringing them to the university,” said Chip West, assistant vice president facilities and space management at Capital Planning.

There are many ways in which the “Blue Light” system would be beneficial to our campus as well as the surrounding community including, but not limited to providing a visible form of assurance that there is an ample amount of security on campus, acting as a deterrent, and providing peace of mind for all those involved in campus activities.

With the statistic from the National Criminal Justice Reference Service that says, “35 out of every 1,000 women students become victims of rape,” La Verne aims to take preventive steps by installing these towers.

“I think some of the main benefits of adding WEBS to the campus are that there is visibility for campus safety,” West said.

“When parents and students are visiting our campus for the first time they’ll see very visibly these large blue lights and there will be this perception of safety.”

The system will not only allow campus safety to respond to emergencies in a more efficient manner, but it will also allow students to be more involved in keeping the campus a safer place.

“I think first and foremost what it does is reaffirms to the people that not only do we want you to have access to getting in touch with us, we also want you to inform us when you see something going on,” said Skipworth.

“We want folks to be a part of the work that we do and help to make sure that the campus stays safe, that we work together and look out for hazardous conditions, and things that we think are suspicious circumstances.”

Beyond just being a system where students can report suspicious happenings on campus, they also have more of an immediate ability to help others.

“If someone sees that someone is sick or ill or injured or an accident or something like that they have the ability to notify us so we can get medical aide out there to people right away as well,” Skipworth said.

The towers will be about 12 feet tall and will be found near the Hoover Building, the Dailey Theater, parking lot D, parking lot E, Arts and Communications Building, Campus West and the shuttle lot.

Kat Simonelli can be reached at kathryn.simonelli@laverne.edu.

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