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

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University of Georgia students are calling for more safety features on campus, including blue-light emergency phones, in the wake of the Feb. 22 murder of Augusta University nursing student Laken Riley, and the school says it will prioritize them. Announced.

UGA Police Chief Jeffrey Clark described the attack on Riley as a “crime of opportunity” and said that on February 23, Jose Ibarra, 26, an undocumented immigrant from Venezuela, was attacked by Riley while he was out and about. announced that he has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a 22-year-old. Jog along a dirt trail on UGA’s campus.

“As a female student at the University of Georgia, I am deeply saddened and disturbed by the recent murders on our campus,” an anonymous UGA student wrote in the petition description on Change.org. , “Please install emergency blue lights at universities” on Georgia campuses. ”

This tragic incident occurred in a park where many women, including myself, felt safe. …Lake Herrick is owned by her UGA and is a place we believed in. ”

Laken Riley’s murder suspect lived within a 5-minute walk of the Uga crime scene.

University of Georgia murder suspect Jose Ibarra lived within a five-minute walk of the approximate location where he allegedly killed 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley on February 22nd. (Mark Sims for Fox News Digital/Laken Riley/Jose Ibarra)

Riley went for a morning run on the trails surrounding Herrick Lake, located at the southernmost tip of the UGA campus. The approximate location where Ibarra allegedly attacked and killed the nursing student is adjacent to various apartment complexes and railroad tracks. FOX News Digital previously reported that Ybarra lived in one of the apartment complexes located within a five-minute walk from the crime scene.

The suspect’s status as an illegal immigrant infuriated Georgia residents and interrupted Athens Mayor Kelly Gertz’s press conference Wednesday to discuss community safety. Demonstrators jeered at him as he tried to reject the concept of sanctuary cities.

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There is also a push for increased security on UGA’s campus, with a student petition citing a 2019 Grady News Source article that states, “The shortage of emergency blue lights is an ongoing issue that can no longer be ignored. Yes,” he added. There were no blue lights on UGA’s campus.

A university spokesperson said at the time that UGA was one of the first campuses to install emergency blue lights, but “data shows that these call boxes have become obsolete,” adding that in eight years He said there were zero emergency calls made through the box.

Check out Uga’s crime scene walkthrough:

“These lights can instantly contact the police and alert them to dangerous situations. They can also deter crime,” the student-led Charge.org petition states. “According to the National Institute of Justice, improved street lighting has reduced crime in approximately half of the areas studied (Farrington & Welsh, 2002). By installing blue lights, we can significantly reduce crime and improve safety conditions for all students. ”

UGA on Tuesday announced new security measures totaling more than $7.3 million to improve campus safety, including “a system that combines security cameras and blue-light call boxes in strategic locations throughout campus. The university said this includes “establishing a

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“Blue-light call boxes combined with cameras are being added to some locations on campus.Based on existing research, basic call boxes alone do not inherently contribute to a safer environment. .Thus, the new call box system installed on campus will utilize the new multi-call box,” a functional feature that also incorporates security cameras and additional lighting.

“They will be strategically placed in areas identified as ideal for camera coverage and enhanced lighting. In addition, new perimeter fencing has been installed in several areas and the entire campus will have robust security. New signage will be installed to communicate the fact that the area is protected by the San Francisco River.” Camera coverage. ”

Photo of emergency blue light near sidewalk

The murder of Laken Riley on UGA’s campus has prompted calls for emergency blue lights to be installed on campus. (Brad McClenney/Gainesville Sun)

The university also promoted Mobile Bluelight, a feature in the UGA Safe app that calls UGA Police and shares the user’s location in real time. Friend Walk feature that displays the student’s location to selected friends. A police chat feature that allows students to immediately report concerns to her UGA Police Department. Parents of students can also register on the app.

Michael Baden, founder and CEO of Lake Forest Group, former Secret Service agent and NBA security director, is a “supporter” of blue light emergency calls, according to Fox News.・Told Digital.

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He said the phones are typically placed in dark areas on school and hospital campuses, and in strategic areas such as parking lots and sidewalks. These are usually small towers with a light on top and a telephone for anyone to use, but they can also be installed on the side of a building or on an existing street light. Some have cameras that start recording when a call is made.

If the blue light comes on, you must immediately connect with 24/7 response staff, such as the University Public Safety Department or local law enforcement. When a call is made from a specific phone, Felden explained, it can alert responders to the caller’s location.

An overview of the area where Laken Riley's body was found near Herrick Lake on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Georgia.

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

“I think they are effective,” Felden said. “They’re communication channels, and that’s important to me. They’re also a so-called visual deterrent. These bad guys aren’t stupid. Bad guys look at their phones… brightly lit, with a blue light on the top. It comes with a phone connected to it — they’re going to think twice. They’re going to think twice about committing a crime where the phone is.”

But security consultants also pointed out that blue light involves a lot of moving parts and people.

“I think emergency calls are very important to campus safety and security.”

— Michael Verden, Lake Forest Group CEO

“I think emergency phones are very important to campus safety and security. … But it’s not enough. It’s not enough just to have an emergency phone. We have to take a layered approach to security. No. Is there anyone? Is there anyone available to answer the phone? Is there anyone available to answer the phone?” Felden said 911 calls may be held up in some large cities. added.

Laken Riley smiles for a photo while running

Laken Riley smiled and posed for photos as he ran. Riley, a nursing student at Georgia State, was found dead near a lake on campus on February 22, 2024. (Laken Riley/Instagram)

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

“Why aren’t there police patrolling the campus on foot, on horseback, or on trolleys? Why are there no safe means of transportation to get students from classrooms to parking lots, especially during exams scheduled for exams at Knights? Or are there no guards?” Clark wrote.

“Why are so many of the streets so dark? This is a college town! Why are there so many empty lots and vacant buildings on or near campus? There’s suspicious activity in my daughter’s parking lot. You have to walk past a dilapidated garage where the action takes place.

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“Those who knew Laken are suffering and afraid. The parents of the children who had to go home today are suffering and afraid along with them.”

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