The East Carolina University Police Department (PD) and Joyner Library staff are recommending ways for students to stay safe when commuting to and from campus, especially at night, by offering safe transport options and services available to students.
Jason Sugg, ECU PD’s Deputy Chief of Police, said calls about students needing help when commuting from campus do not come in too often, but there will occasionally be calls from staff or students requesting a police presence in the area when walking from campus to their cars or homes. He said ECU PD is “happy” to help with these requests.
Sugg said If ECU transit or SafeRide, a point-to-point van service available at night, is not available to students for some reason, ECU PD will send an officer to assist any individual who calls. SafeRide operates from 6:30 p.m. to 2:15 a.m. Monday through Friday and from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, according to ECU’s website.
ECU PD encourages students to use existing resources such as SafeRide, but if transit is down or a friend isn’t able to offer assistance, ECU PD does provide a safety escort, according to Sugg. He said ECU PD will send an officer to patrol the area if need be.
ECU PD is an all-day and all-night operation seven days a week, so officers will be available at any time to offer assistance to students. Sugg said staffing is not reduced at night.
“On an average night you’re going to have anywhere from seven to ten police officers working, just ECU (PD) officers,” Sugg said. “On Fridays and Saturdays we might have 12 or 13 officers working.”
Sugg said ECU PD patrols the university’s campus the same way they do during daytime hours, and officers are available throughout the whole night. He said there will be a number of officers available to help with whatever the student’s needs are even at 2 or 3 a.m.
According to Sugg, the main line to the dispatch center which students can call for non-emergency issues is (252)-328-6787. He said this line is used to call for safety escorts or for concerned students who may be walking and would like to request an officer to patrol the area.
Sugg said another useful tool students can use when walking is the LiveSafe app. According to Sugg, students can use this app to directly text the police department.
“We have people in the police department twenty-four hours a day that will get that message and can communicate directly with the person on LiveSafe if they choose to use the app,” Sugg said.
Sugg said the app can be downloaded for Android or Apple users for free, and users can sign in with their name or register anonymously. Sugg said there is also a feature on the app where users can connect with a friend who can watch them walk on a map to make sure they get to their destination safely.
More general precautions students can take when walking around campus late at night, or even any time of the day, according to Sugg is to use well-lit, highly traveled paths with blue light emergency phones.
“If someone were, for example, leaving Joyner and say, going to college hill, I would suggest 10th Street.” Sugg said. “It’s very public, there’s lighting there (and) there’s blue light phones along the corridor there.”
Sugg said there are approximately 100 blue light phones across campus that can be used for emergencies. He said they are purple poles with a blue light at the top and on the device there is a button which will immediately call the police department. The light at the top of the pole will flash so officers know where the student is.
Mark Sanders, assistant director of public services at Joyner Library, said the security desk workers located at the entrance of Joyner are available to help students leaving the library both day and night.
“We’re here to make it as safe as possible, both inside the library and with people leaving,” Sanders said. “We’re happy to call them SafeRide or (to) escort them.”
Sierra Lindo, senior public health major, said she has safety concerns about campus at night. Liedo thinks it would help if more lighting and blue lights were added.
According to Lindo, the campus is dark at night. She said it is close to walk to the parking garage from the library, but not everyone uses the parking garage. Liedo said some people also have to wait for buses and SafeRide.
“I think at night they shouldn’t decrease the amount of times they (the buses) come or lessen the amount of buses because sometimes that can be dangerous too,” Lindo said.