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Tip line launch planned to avert school shootings

Kids can call if feeling suicidal or threatened


A statewide student threat tip line to help avert school shootings and other tragedies is scheduled to be up and running by June, according to Oregon State Police.

The Oregon Legislature in February unanimously approved $1 million in funding for the tip line via House Bill 4075. The legislation, borrowing an idea from Colorado, is awaiting Gov. Kate Brown’s signature.

“It’s going to give an outlet for students, teachers and parents to vet or discuss concerns about student safety, which right now we don’t have a place for,” said OSP Superintendent Richard Evans. “In the Colorado model, tons of calls have come in, everything from suicidal behavior to bullying, so I think it’ll be very positive.”

State police are in the process of selecting a contractor to launch and operate the tip line and will begin contract negotiations with one of the finalists after the governor signs the bill, said Mindy McCartt, OSP executive assistant.

The funding also pays for three additional state police positions to oversee the tip line. The positions are a project manager, policy analyst and limited-duration administrative support. The project manager will be the point of contact with the contractor who will provide a software solution for a call center and marketing and outreach.

The tip line will have phone, email, text and Web-based applications, McCartt said.

“It’s going to be marketed to students of a certain age who are afraid to call 911,” McCartt said. “We are trying to give them a friendly, confidential way for them to call.”

The tip line is one of the recommendations of the Oregon Task Force on School Safety.

The program could be modeled after Colorado’s system, called SAFE2TELL, which has received 13,100 tips since 2004. The majority of those were reports of bullying and suicidal behavior. But the system also took in 973 reports of threats of violence and 381 reports of planned attacks on schools, according to a task force report.

Lawmakers established the 14-member task force in 2014 to look at ways to improve school safety and security after shootings at Clackamas Town Center and Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.

Task force Vice Chairman Evans and Chairman Craig Roberts, the Clackamas County sheriff, are among the task force members who have responded to mass shootings in Oregon.

The task force’s other priorities involve starting a statewide database of school floor plans and safety protocols, and starting a statewide student threat assessment system. Members of the task force will ask lawmakers in 2017 to fund the threat assessment system.

Lawmakers funded a tip line in 1998 after the school shooting at Springfield’s Thurston High School, but later eliminated it in budget cuts.