UCOPD is Only One Call Away

UCOPD is Only One Call Away

University of Central Oklahoma Chief of Police Jeff Harp introduces updates to be made to the emergency phones across campus during a UCOSA Congress meeting on Monday, April 9. These emergency phones are intended for students to directly call UCOPD when in need of police assistance. (Ryan Naeve/The Vista)

Eight previously purchased emergency blue light phones will be updated and placed around the University of Central Oklahoma’s campus outside sometime within the next academic year by Safety and Transportation Services after UCO’s Student Association passed CFR18-204 to fund the rewiring on Monday.

CFR18-204 was passed on a consent vote to fund what was being called “The Blue Box Initiative,” giving $10,000 from UCOSA’s allocated reserve fund to Jeffrey Harp, UCO chief of police and executive director for Safety and Transportation Services, who is working on the updating and placement of these emergency phones.

These outdoor phones were presented to UCOSA on April 9 by Harp where he asked them to help decide where students would want these to be located and help with funding for the rewiring.

“I’m hopeful that if we can find funding we can do this by August, but it may not be August. It could be September or October before it’s done or it could be June,” Harp said, before UCOSA passed the resolution. “It just depends on a lot of things coming together.”

These outdoor phones, along with 20 indoor emergency phones, were purchased three years ago which is when the university switch over the phone system to Voice over Internet Protocol. The indoor emergency phones were rewired last summer and are tested weekly.

However, a transition has to be made with the outdoor phones before those can be placed outside due to the university changing their phone system over from copper phone lines to a VoIP system.

Two outdoor emergency phones are already in place on campus and another eight will be added once they are rewired.

“Where you locate these is going to dictate the cost,” Harp said. “So what I asked UCOSA on [April 9] was for help in identifying where students would like to see these seven units. There are eight total, but one of them we are going to be using at the police building as an exterior point of contact.”

The outdoor phones have to go in new locations where there are no copper phone lines, they need to be rewired to manage VoIP and the buttons have to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, so everyone can reach them.

Harp said UCOSA Congress Chair Remington Dean had contacted Safety and Transportation Services to see if there was a way to expand emergency phones on campus. Other UCOSA members had helped in this process as well.

Since UCOSA is covering the cost of rewiring the phones, Harp will work with the university to pay the other expenses associated with installing the emergency outdoor phones.

“We’re trying to do this as inexpensively as we can,” Harp said.

These phones are connected to the UCO Police Services Communications Center and pushing either button will contact them. Safety and Transportation Services’ page on UConnect says this center is open for 24 hours, every day of the year and staffed by trained emergency communications personnel.

The emergency button is intended for anyone on campus to be able to get in immediate contact with UCO PSCC. The information button will be for any non-emergency related help: finding a building, safe walk information, directions, a jump-start on a vehicle or any other informational help.

“We’re excited about the opportunity to partner with UCOSA and trying to get these eight units installed over the next several months to serve students better,” Harp said.

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