UNA police seek student safety device

by Police Beat Writer Noel Geiger

The UNA Police Department started a pilot study on a new safety device for students March 21.

After meeting with Peace of Mind Company, the department was ready to test out the Peace of Mind Panic Button, said Chief of Police Kevin Gillilan.

The Peace of Mind Panic Button is a pocket-sized device that sends a silent call to campus security with a one-button push. It is ideal for emergency situations that require a discreet, silent call for help between campus security and the user, according to the Peace of Mind Company website.

The company is dedicated to solving personal safety problems and providing peace of mind for parents, students and families. The company was founded on the belief that they can do something greater to protect the people they love, according the website.

“I invited this particular company to campus, and they brought a sample of their product,” Gillilan said. “I actually pulled together a team of myself, (Vice President of Student Affairs) David Shields and (Director of Residence Life) Kevin Jacques. We sat through the demo and agreed to do a pilot study on it to see if it was a technology that was going to be feasible on campus and one that would suit our students well.”

Students would register the device online, create a personal profile and connect the POM with their smartphone app. The user’s profile will appear on a computer monitor, giving campus police the ability to detect a student’s real-time location in an emergency situation, according to the website.

Senior Hannah Booker said she believes in the product’s ability to carry out the job.

“The POM system is definitely something I would purchase and carry with me,” Booker said. “College campuses can be generally unsafe, and the POM seems like a wonderful and effective addition to campus security.”

The one-button push gadget is designed to stay active for 10 to 14 days and goes to “sleep” to preserve battery life after the charge gets low, according to the website.

The device can also record any audio presence and calls made to and from the POM device.

The idea came after the police department held several meetings on improving campus safety with the Student Government Association.

“We have to rely pretty heavily on the Student Nighttime Auxiliary Patrol, and we were just looking for ways to enhance the safety functionality of campus.”

Gillilan said he has yet to determine how the study will take place but knows who will be involved PASS.

“I am not sure if we are going to do the studies in phases,” Gillilan said. “We have to make sure when we are testing this we do not have our police officers run all over the place; we still have to maintain our normal operations. We want to try to include SGA, staff and faculty members, and Residence Life workers to get a good feedback from across campus before we proceed with anything on a permanent bases.”

Gillilan said he wants to test other options but has high hopes for the product.

“I am still looking at a company call Live Safe, as well as a few more, to see what is available,” Gillilan said. “What I like about this is the device doesn’t rely solely on a phone app and it is coupled with a secondary device. I look forward (to) seeing how well the product operates.”

The panic button is a great product with substantial benefits, said senior Clay Goodman.

“As a big brother to a sister who goes to UNA, I like to ensure she is kept away from harms reach,” Goodman said. “This device would give me a more relaxed feeling knowing she can always call on help at the push of a button.”

Gillilan said he hopes a safety device could be introduced by the next school year.