The Department of Public Safety relaunched its 9-1-1 information campaign across the CSUN campus last week to educate students, faculty and staff about how to contact campus police by dialing the number on campus phones in an emergency.
“In March 2003, the campus eliminated the method of having to dial ‘9’ before dialing an (internal) number,” said Christina Villalobos, CSUN police spokesperson. “So if anyone had to dial the police for an emergency before then, they had to dial ‘9’, then ‘9-1-1’ right after it.”
She said it was around that time when police launched their first 9-1-1 campaign.
Many students, faculty, and staff still do not know that campus police can be reached by dialing 9-1-1 on campus phones, Villalobos said, adding that they are not always aware that they can do this, so the campaign will try to educate people about the use of 9-1-1 on campus and also encourage people to use it only in cases of emergency.
“It makes things a whole lot easier on everyone,” she said. “Instead of people thinking about, ‘Oh, what’s that number again for campus police? What was their extension?’, they can just dial the universal emergency number that’s easier to remember and that everyone knows.”
Police officers are going door to door on campus to promote the campaign and leave 9-1-1 posters, stickers, and banners in many CSUN department offices. So far the campaign has been quite successful, Villalobos said.
In addition, some students only recently learned the convenience of dialing 9-1-1 in the case of an emergency.
“I had no idea you could reach campus police through 9-1-1 on campus phones, until now. Sounds like it saves time,” said Jake Schimke, senior CTVA major. “If I had an emergency, I would want the fastest response possible.”
However, some students who recently enrolled in CSUN were already educated in the use of 9-1-1 on campus.
“I knew about it already when I first attended classes here last August,” said Pacharapong Pongpairoj, freshman computer science major. “I see posters that say, ‘In case of an emergency, dial 9-1-1’ in several of the labs I have classes in.”
Pongpairoj added that proximity also plays a role in knowing proper 9-1-1 procedure.
“It’s much faster than if I’m at home when dialing 9-1-1 and I have to wait for the nearest (Los Angeles Police Department) officer to come to my house,” he said.
With student use of cell phones, however, making sure students know how to reach campus police dispatch can sometimes get complicated.
“Obviously, since a lot of students have cell phones, dialing 9-1-1 on them won’t exactly get campus police. It’ll get the highway patrol, and they’ll try to route the calls to us. This takes a lot more time to respond to an emergency,” Villalobos said, adding that CSUN police encourage students to program the communications office number (818-677-2111) into their cell phones.
Mark Solleza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.