June 30, 2005

Non-emergency police number changing Aug. 1

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Department of Public Safety will use a new telephone number for non-emergency and business calls, starting Aug. 1.

The new number, 453-DPS1, or 453-3771, should be easier to remember than the existing number, Director Todd D. Sigler said. The 618 area code remains the same for long-distance calls into the department.

The change stems from a student inquiry during a safety tour of the campus last year. The student believed she needed to call police one night and was uncertain whether she should call 9-1-1 or use the regular business line. The student did not readily remember the existing business line number, which currently is 453-2381, Sigler said.

"The idea came up that the business line needed to be something that people could begin to associate with our office and remember more easily," Sigler said.

University officials then came up with the idea of 453-DPS1.

"I think that any effort we can make to provide an easier way for people to remember one number in an emergency or non-emergency is a good idea," Sigler said. "You want people to be able to contact the police quickly."

While the new telephone number goes into effect Aug. 1, there will be a six-month transition period during which the telephone system will continue to recognize calls to the existing non-emergency number, Sigler said. The cutoff for the existing telephone number is Jan. 31.

Sigler understands it will take time to become accustomed to the new 453-3771 non-emergency telephone number. The University is taking steps to familiarize students, faculty, staff and public with the new number, including:

  • Bookmarks that have contact information, including the new non-emergency number on one side, and tips for avoiding parking tickets on the other. The bookmarks will be distributed when parking decals are sold.
  • Stickers with the new telephone number will be available.
  • Notices on the University employee electronic ListServ.
  • The change is posted on the Department of Public Safety's web site http://www.dps.siu.edu/
  • Sending out notices to other law enforcement and social service agencies the department regularly deals with.
  • Placing the new telephone number on squad cars.

Sigler emphasizes that callers who have doubts on whether "something may or may not be an emergency" when deciding to use 9-1-1 should not worry.

"If they believe it is an emergency they are more than welcome to call 9-1-1. The telecommunicators will help determine whether it remains an emergency call or whether they will have to call back on the business line," Sigler said. "We don't want people debating that when they are out there in a situation and they think they have an emergency."

Telecommunicators on campus who handle non-emergency telephone calls also answer 9-1-1 calls, he said.

The new number also reflects "the mission of the Department of Public Safety," which includes the parking division, Sigler said. SIUC's parking division number, 618/453-5369, remains the same, he said.

Promoting campus safety and responding effectively to factors that suggest a need for innovation and change are among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.