Canal walkers question need for call boxes

Call boxes bagged along Canal Walk (Photo by Nina Criscuolo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — One of the safe guards for walkers along the Indianapolis canal is out of service. The call boxes are in need of repairs and possible upgrades, but some say the call boxes might not needed with today’s technology.

“They may notice some bags on the phones, some of them have fallen into disrepair and aren’t working or many of them have been plain vandalized,” John Bartholomew with the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development said.

Five covered call boxes are currently unavailable for use.

“I’m wondering why they didn’t just take them down, instead of bagging them,” Gayle Durcholz said.

She walks her dog on the canal every day and says the call boxes are no longer needed.

“It was good in the day, it was a nice thing to know, but now everybody has their own cell phones,” Durcholz said.

“Well that’s a good question and that might be something we’ll look at,” Bartholomew said when asked about the need for call boxes.

And other regulars agree, saying the canal is safe and most everyone has a phone on hand.

“It’s very safe down here, there’s plenty of patrol. When I’m down here walking I see IMPD and plenty of traffic,” Ray Chester said.

The boxes have a single button for those in trouble to push quickly.

“You push the button and they’re set in to call 911,” said Bartholomew.

Still, the Department of Metropolitan Development says they’re looking into options for the boxes.

“The vendor is still assessing what the damage is, what equipment needs to be replaced or if we have to upgrade or do anything new,” Bartholomew said.

Meanwhile, city officials urge those along the canal to be safe and keep their cell phones close by. It’s something folks like Gayle take seriously whether the call boxes are removed or remain in the popular spot.

“I usually don’t come out after dark, usually about 9 by myself,” Durcholz said.

The Department of Metropolitan Development says they don’t have a timeline to repair or upgrade the call boxes. They are currently waiting on bids for the project.

24-Hour News 8 will stay on this story to see what the department’s leaders decide to do with the call boxes in the future. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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