SOS alarm device hopes to help college students feel safe on campus

October 03, 2016

Jasmine Nelson

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     Many self-defense courses teach students that one of the best ways to draw attention when being attacked is by making a lot of noise.

     College students are now using a personal alarm device called the Sound Grenade, developed by Robocopp. The device resembles a USB drive, which emits 120 decibels of sound to deter criminal activity and draw attention from bystanders. This volume is comparable to that of an ambulance siren.

     Known as the smallest SOS alarm in the world, Sound Grenade is a non-violent safety measure that allows students to stay safe without having to confront their attackers like they would with pepper spray, according to Jill Turner, director of public relations for Robocopp.

     Students on hundreds of college campuses across the country are carrying this device as a safety measure, including people in Colorado Springs, according to Turner.

     “Students have used it when someone is following them, and the student just isn’t sure if that person means them any harm. They’ll just pull it and the person typically runs in the other direction, and it’ll attract campus safety officers,” said Turner.

     “Alarms are used in a lot of different types of crime prevention like home burglary, bank robberies, convenience store robberies (and) car alarms.”

     Sound Grenade was developed to help Robocopp CEO Sam Mansen’s sister to make sure she had a safety precaution that wasn’t a weapon.

     Mansen, Air Force Academy alumnus, decided to sell the device after his sister, and her friends felt safe having the device with them on campus.

     A study, cited by the International Institute of Criminology in Montreal, reported that 68 percent of criminals would run away empty handed as soon as they heard an alarm, according to Turner.

     UCCS has a relatively low crime rate compared to other campuses of similar size and residential student population, according to Marc Pino, interim chief of police and executive director of Public Safety.

     Public Safety has responded to five reports of theft, one report of assault and one report of harassment, among other campus disturbances this September.

     The university is encouraging students to take measures to protect themselves with pepper spray, self-defense classes and personal alarms, along with communicating freely with campus safety.

     “People are feeling more comfortable reporting, which, I think, is a good thing. It’s not good that it’s happening, but it is good that (students) are feeling more confident and comfortable coming forward,” said Pino.

     The device’s effectiveness over more forceful methods of self-defense is debatable since it is similar to a high-tech rape whistle, according to Pino.

     “Anything is better than nothing, but it’s not a fail-safe. Just because you have (Sound Grenade) doesn’t mean bad things can’t happen to you,” said Pino.

     “A campus gave away rape whistles one year and nobody paid attention to them because everybody was blowing them, and you know car alarms are the same way. People just don’t pay attention to them,” said Pino. While women are often considered most likely to become victims of crime, Turner suggests this to be an unrealistic stereotype.

     “When you look at the actual research and numbers, female and male doesn’t really come into play when it comes to violent crime. Violence is not gender specific; college men are mugged all the time,” said Turner.

     UCCS offers the Rape Aggression Defense program as a free course that aims to prepare women to be able to defend themselves in the presence of an assailant.

     Public safety will offer a Never-A-Victim self-defense workshop on Oct. 30 for mothers and daughters. To stay updated on other campus safety programs throughout the semester, students can visit uccs. edu/pusafety.