Oregon Feb 15 2017 SafeOregon, a new school safety tip line, has been launched by the Oregon State Police to provide free, confidential reporting of threats to student safety.
Tips can be submitted via email, phone call, text message, mobile application or the website 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays.
Oregon State Police Lt. Bill Fugate said the program’s goal is to “intervene at the earliest possible point in the life of a young person who is struggling, helping them when they need it before the situation turns into a tragedy.”
SafeOregon is designed to encourage Oregon students to share and respond to anything that threatens their safety or the safety of others, or anything that makes a student feel unsafe.
Such situations could include violence, threats of violence, fights, drugs, alcohol, weapons, bullying, talk of students hurting themselves, harassment, intimidation, cyberbullying or self-harm, Fugate said.
It is just an additional way that threat information can be delivered to authorities and does not replace 911 services, according to its website.
How it works
A SafeOregon tip line technician receives the threat of potential abuse, threats and the like from students, staff, teachers or the general public.
The technician then immediately forwards the information to designated personnel, such as school principals, law enforcement officials and others who can provide further assistance.
Fugate said individual school districts are responsible for signing up with the program and establishing contacts from local law enforcement, mental health partners and state welfare representatives.
“The call center operates 24 hours a day, and once a tip is received, an experienced, trained and qualified staff member takes the tips coming in and categorizes the seriousness of it and then notifies the appropriate agencies,” Fugate said. “Depending on the nature of the threat, the school could be notified, or local law enforcement and mental health partners, the Department of Human Services or anyone relevant to the threat or potential threat.”
Whether the Eugene, Bethel or Springfield school districts will use the program is not yet known.
SafeOregon is operated by a third-party vendor based in California called Sprigeo, which is essentially the national version of SafeOregon.
Schools designate a primary point of contact to work with SafeOregon, with secondary backups in case the first contact — usually a school principal — is unavailable.
All contacts provided by the schools and districts receive training, access to an interactive computer screen, tool kits and supporting documents and presentations to help navigate the online system, according to the SafeOregon website.
Handling threat calls
When a tip comes in, it’s analyzed by a tip line staff member, who usually sends an email notification to the designated school contact for review. The school contact then reviews the tip and responds appropriately.
If the tip threat warrants it, the tip line staff member might immediately call the designated staff member and also alert officials such as law enforcement, community mental health representatives or Department of Human Services personnel, depending on the nature of the tip information.
Those officials will be encouraged to contact the school directly, the SafeOregon website states.
Fugate said that it’s illegal for students, staff or anyone else to misuse the program.
“It is a violation of Oregon Law 165.570 to use SafeOregon improperly or to let someone use equipment owned, rented or leased for a purpose other than to report a situation that the person reasonably believes requires prompt service in order to preserve human life or property,” its website states.
“Schools should be safe places for children to learn, educators to teach and for communities to gather,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said in a press release. “We can all do our part through the SafeOregon tip line to share information about potential threats to student safety.”
Tip line funding
The program is funded through House Bill 4075, which was passed by the Legislature in February 2016 following recommendations from the Oregon Task Force on School Safety.
As a result of the bill’s passage, the Legislature allocated $1 million over the course of five years to the Oregon State Police to establish and operate the tip line. The money was given to OSP from the state’s general fund.
The Oregon Task Force on School Safety consists of 16 members, including representatives from police, fire, schools (administration and teachers), school boards and service districts, along with the governor’s education and public safety policy advisers, and legislators. The task force is chaired by Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts and Dr. David Novotney of the Willamette Education Service District.
“The big thing to note is that this wasn’t done in a vacuum,” Fugate said. “We included legislators, educators, mental health program representatives, law enforcement officials and much more.”
More information about the program is available at safeoregon.com.