Students get tip line

Students have a number to call to report crimes and bully-associated activities, but that number will link them to a Denver dispatch agency until spring.

The Craig Crimestoppers group has been working with Eastern Slope program coordinators to expand the anonymous line to give students a way to be proactive about the problems they see.

"When there's going to be a fight after school, the bottom line is that kids know all day that it's coming," said Susan Payne, Safe2Tell program director. "We can take a pretty strong approach in preventing crimes among students."

Payne addressed a group of community leaders Wednesday at an interagency meeting about the value of having a Safe2Tell program in schools.

"With this, we have the opportunity to stop something before it starts," she said.

Students have used the hotline to report drug use and sales, bullying and violent activities. Adults have even used the hotline to report harassment.

Youths consider anonymity a crucial part of coming forward, Payne said.

"We want to protect those kids, because the retaliation and peer pressure they face can be incredible," she said.

Safe2Tell is a program that serves youths in kindergarten through 12th grade. It brings a critical component in that local dispatchers collect the tips as opposed to an answering machine or a drop box.

What a live dispatcher offers is an immediate response to immediate problems.

"The liability is huge if someone doesn't respond immediately," Payne said.

Local dispatchers will have access to a database of agencies. That database will include who to contact in what type of emergency and the best way to contact that person.

Officials can choose to be notified by e-mail, fax, pager or phone.

The problem is that the current database doesn't include information for any school's responsible party.

That information is being collected.

Craig Intermediate School Principal Don Davidson was very active in starting the Safe2Tell program in Colorado Springs and said he has nothing but good things to say about the program.

"I just had great success with this," he said.

Davidson tells of calls that resulted in the capture of drug dealers and the prevention of thefts and vandalism.

"The tips range from the very big to the very small," he said.

The highest number of tips received so far have dealt with bullying, Payne said.

"They key is just having that open line of communication," she said.

Craig police Sgt. Bill Leonard is working to coordinate Safe2Tell training for local dispatchers and expects the program to be online in the spring.

Until then, students still can call 1-877-542-SAFE. The information they give will be passed along to local officials.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.