URI Public Safety Department Now Receives 9-1-1 Calls Directly

Prior to the transition, 9-1-1 calls made from campus were routed to a local police department before being relayed to campus police.

The University of Rhode Island announced 9-1-1 calls made from campus will be routed from the state’s 9-1-1 center to University Police and Emergency Medical Services.

The transition was made possible when the university became an officially designated Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) through the state’s Enhanced 9-1-1 Uniform Emergency Telephone System, according to a press release from the Kingston school.

Before the transition, 9-1-1 calls made from campus were first routed to the South Kingstown Police Department and then relayed to university police.

Assistant Director of Public Safety and Director of Emergency Management Sam Adams said URI’s growth, both in enrollment and facilities, is what led to the transition. The campus also recently built a robust Office of Emergency Management, established community policing and bicycle patrol units, and armed campus police, Adams added.

The initiative to join the 9-1-1 system started in Jan. 2019 when URI Public Safety Director and Police Chief Stephen Baker contacted David Smith, the director of the state’s 9-1-1 system. Smith worked with school officials to test the technology last month and URI’s full participation in the system began this month.

Smith said the initiative will reduce relay times and the chance for error. Since most 9-1-1 calls come from wireless phones, call locator technology can be used to assist dispatchers and URI first responders.

“Statistically, RI E911 receives more than 470,000 calls per year. We know that lives are saved when first responders can deploy to a scene or at least provide pre-arrival instruction for medical assistance,” he said. “The direct routing of calls from administration, staff, students, and visitors at their time of emergency is the best way that our agencies can work together to provide the most efficient and elite public service that they all expect and deserve.”

The former campus emergency number (401-874-2121) will remain in service for the foreseeable future during the transition. Non-emergency calls from the URI community should be made to the Public Safety Dispatch Center at 401-874-4910.

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