NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Emergency call boxes are a fixture in many New York City neighborhoods and almost all college campuses.

Now, with nearly everyone owning a smartphone, some are wondering whether the boxes should be disconnected.

The city of New Rochelle is hanging up on emergency call boxes at New Roc City parking garage: They’re ebing disconnected and removed.

“I guess if it hasn’t been used in a couple of years it’s probably a good idea,” said New Rochelle resident Kyress Coke.

The volume of calls has dropped in the age of smartphones. A city spokesperson says the technology is “outdated.”

“They generated false alarms and kids have a tendency to push the button for fun,” the spokesperson said.

So over the next few weeks, the call boxes will disappear.

Turns out New Rochelle is far from alone in reconsidering the value of installing and maintaining the emergency call boxes, reported CBS2’s Tony Aiello. In parts of California and Florida, hundreds of highway call boxes have been removed, with more scheduled to be taken down.

Major colleges including the Universities of Georgia and Nebraska have also removed call boxes, encouraging students to use special smartphone apps to summon help.

“Kids lost their phones all the time,” said Pelham resident Katie Stevens. She has two daughters in college, and says emergency call boxes on their campuses provide peace of mind.

“I think anything that can protect our students today and our youth is important. I also have an elderly father. If he was here and got into trouble, why wouldn’t he use the call box?” Stevens said.

New Rochelle says a consultant and the fire department signed off on removing the boxes after determining they’re not needed and not required by code.


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