Dover to Remove Blue Light Emergency Phone Stations - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dover to Remove Blue Light Emergency Phone Stations

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Dover emergency phone in Silver Lake Park. (WBOC) Dover emergency phone in Silver Lake Park. (WBOC)

Dover will remove emergency phone stations in its parks because city staff and police say the kiosks have been largely unused after their installation several years ago.

City council voted Monday night to remove the phones because they have long gone unused in legitimate emergencies. The five stations are designated by blue lights and can call police with the press of a button.

However, Cpl. Mark Hoffman, a Dover police spokesman, said the phones tended to hail emergency dispatchers when no one was in danger.

"They tended to be false alarms or malfunctioning equipment every time our officers went out there," said Dover Police Cpl. Mark Hoffman.

City staff recommended decommissioning and removing the phones after a station in Silver Lake Park malfunctioned during Memorial Day Weekend, repeatedly calling 911 and tying up emergency dispatchers.

City Manager Scott Koenig said it costs roughly $1,000 a year to keep the phone lines in service. He said the technology within the kiosks is outdated and most people carry cellphones they can use to call emergency responders.

"Given the cost of these things we don't think they equal the same value so we would rather spend the dollars adding other features to the parks that improve usage and, potentially, overall safety to the parks," he said.

However, some residents believe the change is not a positive one. 

Carol Daniels said the phones could be vital for someone who is older and may not carry a cellphone. 

"If someone fell and hurt themselves and they had no phone or nothing and they push the button that means someone should come over," she said.

Paul Cunningham said he thinks the phone stations should not be removed because they allow people who are being followed or attacked to instantly connect with police.

"It's a quicker access to 911 than (having) a cellphone and trying to pull it out somewhere and dial it," he said. "I think it's better to just press a button and go."

Koenig said the city is in the process of putting in work orders to decommission and remove the kiosks. One malfunctioning device has already been turned off.

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