Two of the WVU Emergency Call System boxes, commonly known as Blue Lights, were missing phone panels as of last week. These are used by students to call police in an emergency.
The broken call boxes were first discovered during the Student Government Association safety walk last week.
University administrators, SGA members and a DA reporter noticed that the call box across from several fraternities at the top of North High St. had no electricity and was missing the physical button that connects users to UPD when pressed.
DA reporters examined fifteen of the Blue Lights on the downtown campus last week and found that a second call box located behind the Wise Library was also missing the phone panel.
On this call box, yellow caution tape had been wrapped around the open slot where the phone panel normally is.
On the same night, DA reporters also observed five call boxes where the light bulb on top was not on. Two of the call boxes observed had red or white light bulbs, rather than blue ones.
University Police Interim Chief Phil Scott said in a statement that his department was aware of the broken call boxes last month but experienced part delays due to the pandemic.
“We paid for parts last month for two units on the Downtown campus that were out of service,” Scott said. “However, supply chain issues due to the pandemic are a factor in getting parts delaying some repairs.”
He said the call box behind the Wise Library is now back in service.
As of Wednesday, the call box at the top of North High Street was back in service as well.
April Kaull, executive director of communication, said that some issues are “intermittent which makes tracking and repairing difficult” before each monthly inspection.
Call boxes were operational during the University Police Department’s monthly inspection in September, Kaull said.
After the DA brought the broken call boxes to the attention of administrators, University police officers inspected the system and confirmed four boxes were inoperational. They indicated that the broken light bulbs had no effect on the function of the call boxes.
Students are often told to look for the Blue Lights in the case of an emergency.
The call boxes were implemented to provide students with a quick way to connect to University Police. There are over 30 call boxes spread across campus.
Similarly, WVU’s LiveSafe App provides students with direct communication with University Police.
Students are encouraged by University Police to report any issues they notice with the call boxes to 304-293-3136.
Duncan Slade, Trenton Straight and Charles Montgomery contributed reporting.