University police are working with students and faculty to create a smartphone application called “Mergency” that will allow students to report suspicious activity or a crime in progress and alert police in real-time, said Capt. Bob Mueck, of the university police.
This application will allow students who do not feel safe or suspect a suspicious individual close by to, with the touch of a button, record the situation and present their location through GPS to contact university police immediately, Mueck said.
“This new app called ‘Mergency’ will allow students to contact us right away and give us the information to report to the problem appropriately,” Mueck said. “We’ve always had the blue “Emergency” lights to assist in situations but those cannot help in every case. If you’re being attacked, you may not be close enough to one but with the app you have assistance right in your hand.”
Some female students feel that College Park neighborhoods are far from safe and actions like this new app are a step in the right direction. Kim Goldman, a senior psychology major, feels that certain areas of College Park need special attention from university police.
“Many students have had to use the Metro on a daily basis, myself included, and at times I do feel very unsafe,” Goldman said. “If I were to be attacked or robbed I feel like no one would be able to help me. Creating this app would at least allow female students to reach police and attempt to get help.”
“Most people do own smart phones and I think a lot of students would download the application,” Goldman said. “Most phones are pretty high-tech so I’m sure there wouldn’t be any technical problems with the app and it would turn out to be pretty effective.”
However, some students recognize that the app seems ideal on paper but in a time of crisis this protocol may not go as planned. Kerry Thompson, a senior psychology and family science double major, thinks the app is not realistic.
“University police are just trying to reach out to more and more people through this app but I don’t think it’s a realistic thing,” Thompson said. “If someone was attacking another person, they probably wouldn’t have time to locate the app on their phone in time and notify police.”
Instead of issuing an application, university police should be more active in making sure students are safe in College Park neighborhoods by being present by patrol and on duty, Thompson said.
“Why can’t police be more proactive themselves?” Thompson said. “I don’t think this app will help lower crime rates because who is actually going to stop and decide to hit the application. Police should be patrolling the area more and making sure girls are getting home safe.”
University police have issued a variety of target enforcement programs that include increased patrol routes and have been coordinated with county police to create more of a combined effort to make College Park a secure area, Mueck said.
“Safety and security are our first priorities and we are putting forth many efforts to make the university’s students feel comfortable on and off campus,” Mueck said. “’Mergency’ is a way for students to reach us directly and receive the help they need. ‘Mergency’ is the next step to lower crime incidences in College Park and connect university police to the students.”
University police are still working with the Department of Public Safety, faculty and students to finalize the app and have still not set a release date.