Emergency Phones Enhance Safety

El Vaquero Staff Writer

Five more emergency call boxes will be set up and activated on campus within the next two to four months.

By the end of this time frame, there will be eight of the boxes. The first three are already up and running, ready to use.

“We’ve had call boxes in the past that were wireless. They were unreliable and high maintenance,” said Director of Business Services Bill Taylor. The old call boxes were put up 15 or 20 years ago and were removed in 2002, after they were deemed unusable, said GCC Police Specialist Nidal Kobaissi.

The new call boxes are being installed because the old wireless system no longer worked, Kobaissi said. “We decided to replace them with new ones that utilize the college phone system, which is based on radio waves and is more reliable,” Taylor said.

The old call box locations on campus were no longer useful after the construction changes on campus. The new call boxes are being built in new locations chosen by the GCC Police Department. Two of the emergency call boxes are on the east side of the Administration building and one is on the third floor of the San Gabriel building. The five call boxes that are yet to be installed will be near GCC parking lots.

Two different kinds of call boxes will be implemented on Glendale College’s campus. Tower boxes are on blue poles rising from the ground and cost $3,500 each; the college will have five of these.

In addition, there will be three wall mount boxes, which get their name because they are, similar to a pay phone, attached to building walls. Each wall-mount call box will cost $585. Electrical bills are not included in these costs.

Funding for the call boxes is coming from the Joint Parking Authorities [JPA] refund that GCC got from the City of Glendale last year. “Any surplus dollars built over the last couple of years, we split 50/50 between the City of Glendale and GCC,” Taylor said. The money has existed for two years but it was not distributed to GCC until last year because JPA kept all funds to make sure there was a surplus, Taylor said.

The purpose of the call boxes is to make students feel safe, Kobaissi said. “The old ones were used every day. It doesn’t always have to be an emergency. It’s a way of getting to the police department.”

Call boxes will come in handy during night classes if somebody sees an unusual activity or a suspicious person, Kobaissi said. “The call boxes are for students that feel they are in danger.”

Kobaissi said that the emergency phone system is not set up to intimidate those who might potentially do wrong. If people see they have a call box system, they can just push a button and signal an emergency so in that sense, the call boxes deter crime but they are not used to intimidate, Kobaissi said.

The call box system is not a state requirement but it is not unusual for colleges to have it and the presence of one does not indicate higher or lower crime rates on campus, Kobaissi said. “It’s typical that every campus has them. I haven’t been to one campus that hasn’t had them. It’s not something that is new. We are not putting them up because we feel that the campus is unsafe.”

Students have mixed reactions to the call boxes. “They are useless. Everybody has cell phones so if I see something, I’ll reach into my bag and use that,” said 28-year-old Helen Avanesian, an accounting major.