University Police designs app for student protection

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University Police designs app for student protection

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Last May, ULM was ranked one of the safest colleges in America by Alarms.org. Director of University Police Tom Torregrossa said that this was not because of the UPD.
“That is the result of everybody working together. It’s not that the University Police Department has done anything special. It’s the fact that you have your residential life people, your faculty, your staff and your administration on board. And most importantly- we have our students on board,” Torregrossa said.
And while being one of the safest colleges in America is something Torregrossa takes pride in, he said that maintaining the student’s and faculty’s safety was the goal now.

According to Lieutenant Jeremy Kent, this is the purpose of ULM’s Safe app.
“I think it is important to recognize the safety mechanisms that we have in place which are what brought this to light for us,” Kent said.
With this app, there are many features for any student or faculty member to use.
“Everything is app-based now. They want apps. They want direct contacts in their phones to be able to reach us and to communicate with us,” Kent said.
ULM Safe app is available to students and faculty for a free download on ITunes or Google Play.
According to Kent, there is an emergency panic button that can be pressed. This will dial the person’s GPS coordinates to the UPD dispatch at any time and will provide an open line communication with their dispatcher.
“We can get a police officer to their exact location in a much quicker response time than we could previously,” Kent said.

Not only does the app have the emergency panic button, but it also has an anonymous tip software too.
If someone sees something going on, but doesn’t want their name attached they can take photos or videos of the incident that is occurring with a dispatcher.
“If you just feel like something isn’t right say something to somebody,” Torregrossa said.
Also, FriendWatch allows for students to make sure that their friends make it to their dorms or their car safely.
Lastly, they added resource tabs, the student handbook and several different options for students to get more comfortable with the Safe app.

For ULM’s Safe app, it wasn’t just the UPD who helped bring this idea to life.
“There was a lot of work. The lieutenant, the IT center, the computing center, the marketing department, residential life and students were all involved,” Torregrossa said.
This app will also help with getting information into the emergency notification system.
“Before the emergency notification system was not as user friendly but now the information you provide in the app is the information we will send the notification out to. This allows student a bit more ease of access to go in and change phone numbers or adding other people,” Kent said.
Lieutenant Kent and Torregrossa wanted everyone to know that this app wasn’t just for students, faculty and staff- it is also available to the community.

“If a student’s parent wanted to download the app and receive the same emergency notifications, they now have access into the system,” Kent said.