Laken Riley murder exposed glaring security lapses on college campuses, need for emergency blue lights
Share and Follow

University of Georgia students are demanding more on-campus safety features, such as blue light emergency phones, which the school said it would prioritize following the Feb. 22 murder of Augusta University nursing student Laken Riley.

UGA Police Chief Jeffrey Clark described the attack against Riley as a “crime of opportunity” while announcing the Feb. 23 arrest of Jose Ibarra, a 26-year-old illegal immigrant from Venezuela accused of killing Riley, 22, while she was out for a jog along dirt trails on UGA’s campus.

“As a female student at the University of Georgia, I am deeply heartbroken and alarmed by the recent murder that occurred on our campus,” an unnamed UGA student wrote in the description of a Change.org petition, “Install Emergency Blue Lights on University of Georgia’s Campus.”

“These lights can instantly contact the police and make them aware of a dangerous situation. They can also deter crimes,” the student-led Charge.org petition says. “According to the National Institute of Justice, improved street lighting led to a crime reduction in about half of the areas studied (Farrington & Welsh, 2002). By implementing enhanced lighting systems across campus and installing blue lights for emergency calls, we can significantly improve safety conditions for all students.”

UGA on Tuesday announced new security measures totaling more than $7.3 million to make its campus safer, including “the installation of combined security camera-blue light call box systems in strategic locations across campus,” the university said.

The phones, he said, are typically installed in strategic areas, including dark areas on a school or hospital campus or in parking lots and pedestrian walkways. They are typically small towers that have lights on top of them and phones accessible for anyone’s use, but they can also be installed on the side of buildings or on existing light posts. Some even have cameras that start recording when a call is made.

The blue lights require an immediate connection to some kind of 24/7 responder staffing, whether that be a college public safety department or a local police department. Calls made from specific phones can alert a responder to the location of a caller, Verden explained.

A general view of the area where Laken Riley’s body was found near Lake Herrick on the University of Georgia’s campus in Athens, Georgia

The area where Laken Riley’s body was found near Lake Herrick on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Ga., Feb. 24, 2024.  (Mark Sims for Fox News Digital)

“I think they’re effective,” Verden said. “They are a communications channel, and that, to me, is important. They’re also what you would call a visual deterrent. These bad guys aren’t stupid. A bad guy sees a phone … brightly lit, blue light on top, a phone attached to it — they’re going to think twice. They’re going to think twice about committing a crime where the phone is located.”

But the security consultant also noted that blue lights involve a lot of moving parts and manpower.

“I think the emergency phones are critically important to the safety and security of campuses.”

— Michael Verden, CEO of The Lake Forest Group

“I think the emergency phones are critically important to the safety and security of campuses. … But that, by itself, is not enough. Just having an emergency phone is not enough. It has to be a layered approach to security. Are there people available to answer the call? Are there people available to respond to the call?” Verden said, adding that, in some big cities, people calling 911 may be placed on hold.

Laken Riley smiles for a photo while running

Laken Riley smiles for a photo while running. Riley, a nursing student in Georgia, was found dead near a lake on campus Feb. 22, 2024. (Laken Riley/Instagram)

A community member named Marlene Clark expressed similar concerns about safety measures on UGA’s campus in an email to UGA President Jere Morehead with Fox News Digital copied.

“Why are there no police patrolling the campus on foot, on horseback or on trolleys? Why are there not secure transportation/escorts to move students from classrooms to parking lots, especially during testing when exams are scheduled at NIGHTS?” Clark wrote. 

“Why are so many of the streets so dark? THIS IS A COLLEGE TOWN! Why are there so many unattended empty lots and vacant buildings on or close to campus? My daughter’s parking requires her to walk past a run down garage with questionable activities.

“Those who knew Laken are suffering and scared, the parents of children who had to go back today are suffering along with them and scared.”

Share and Follow
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like
Trump vows to testify in 'hush money' criminal trial

Former President Trump pledges to testify in ‘hush money’ criminal trial

Donald Trump, the previous president, stated that he plans to testify in…
Hundreds of runners race in San Marco to support families with foster, adoptive children

Runners participate in San Marco race to benefit families with foster and adoptive children

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Parts of San Marco were filled with hundreds of…
Chicago shooting: 11 shot in Back of the Yards near Damen; 8-year-old girl killed; 2 boys, ages 1 and 8, injured, police say

Tragic shooting in Back of the Yards: 11 individuals shot, including an 8-year-old girl killed

CHICAGO (WLS) — Eleven people were shot, including at least three children,…
Chicago crime: 81-year-old veteran, pizza delivery man Ernie Aimone assaulted, carjacked in Jefferson Park on Ludlam Avenue

Elderly Veteran and Pizza Delivery Driver, Ernie Aimone, Attacked and Robbed in Carjacking Incident on Ludlam Avenue in Jefferson Park, Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) — An elderly pizza delivery man said he was robbed…
Caitlin Clark makes shock appearance on Saturday Night Live

Caitlin Clark unexpectedly appears on Saturday Night Live

Caitlin Clark made a shock appearance on Saturday Night Live this week with…
Lori Loughlin fell to her knees when she learned of Bob Saget's death

Lori Loughlin dropped to her knees after hearing about Bob Saget’s passing

Even though over two years have passed since Bob Saget’s tragic death,…
Why Republicans are raising fears about President Kamala Harris

Republicans are expressing concerns about Vice President Kamala Harris

President Kamala Harris.  It’s a concept that continues to emerge, whether on…
Sex crimes charges dropped against California Marine after missing teen found in barracks

Charges of sex crimes against a Marine in California are dismissed after a missing teenager is discovered in the barracks

SAN DIEGO (AP) — A Southern California Marine accused of having sex…