Coffman, Himes, Introduce ‘Safe-2-Tell’ Act

Will Export Colorado’s ‘Safe-2-Tell’ Program Nationwide

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Washington, September 6, 2018 | Daniel Bucheli (202-225-7882) | comments

Washington, D.C. –  Today, U.S. Representatives Mike Coffman (R-CO) and James Himes (D-CT) introduced, H.R. 6713, the ‘Safe to Tell Act of 2018. The legislation, if enacted, will provide federal grants to states that choose to establish and maintain an anonymous, 24/7 monitored venue to alert law enforcement about potential threats of violence at schools. The legislation would require those states seeking a grant to present a framework in which parents, students, teachers, and school administrators can effectively and efficiently share information regarding potential threats with law enforcement and school safety officials. The legislation is intended to encourage states to establish programs similar to the highly successful Colorado ‘Safe2Tell’ program, pioneered after the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999. 

“I want to thank Representative Himes for joining me in introducing the ‘Safe to Tell Act of 2018’. Parents should never have to wonder if their children are safe at school,” said Coffman. Adding “As representatives of communities that have been affected by violence, we are confident that exporting the ‘Safe2Tell’ model— which has saved lives in Colorado, will help make all schools a safer place for all children”. 

H.R. 6713 would authorize $25 million for each fiscal year from 2019-2023 for ‘Safe2Tell’ grants. It also provides states with the necessary autonomy to decide how to best implement the program in their jurisdictions, while setting key standards and requirements. Some of these include establishing guidelines and transmitting methods of anonymous reports, proper channel routing for prompt and effective local law enforcement responses and built-in accountability standards, among others.  In Colorado for example, the program is operated by trained Colorado State Patrol communications officers that operate around the clock.

“Time and again, bullying, self-harm, and suspicious activity go unreported by peers – especially among our nation’s middle- and high school students. All too often, these incidents become unmanageable and, in the most tragic cases, lead to tremendous suffering – like suicides and mass shootings,” said Himes. “Through the ‘Safe to Tell Act’, Representative Coffman and I aim to incentivize states to implement statewide anonymous threat reporting systems and reward and support those states with existing programs. This commonsense, bipartisan measure will allow students to alert proper authorities of problematic behavior – allowing them to act early, potentially sparing countless families from the heartache we as a nation know all too well”.

According to Colorado’s Safe2Tell program director, Susan Payne, at least 21 states have asked for technical assistance since the Parkland, Florida school shooting. Michigan, Wyoming, and Nevada have adopted a version of Colorado’s ‘Safe2Tell’ model. The bill will now be assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.

Local Support for H.R. 6713, the ‘Safe to Tell Act of 2018’ (CO-06):

“To prevent tragedies in schools and communities it is essential that we involve young people and break the code of silence. By engaging students, staff and the community to be part of the solution we can intervene early and prevent tragedy. The ‘Safe2Tell’ model provides a protected method of reporting with layers of protection where we can increase successful interventions and interruptions in preventing tragedies. In fact, we have saved countless lives since Safe2Tell began.” – Susan Payne, Founder Safe2Tell and Director of Colorado’s Safe2Tell Program.

“Our students must be our ‘eyes and ears’. Students who are planning attacks broadcast in advance, in one way or another, what they are going to do and thus it is paramount to report such intentions to keep their school safe,” said Frank DeAngelis, Former Columbine High School Principal. “I cannot help but thinking if ‘Safe2Tell’ was in place in 1999, the tragedy at Columbine may have been avoided. Since that fateful day, I have had the opportunity to do school safety presentations nationwide and abroad, and each time I share the importance of Safe2Tell. I would strongly recommend states implement the program and thank Representative Rep. Mike Coffman for his efforts in working to expand this life saving program to the rest of the country. Our children are our most precious commodity, and another life lost is one too many.”

“As a parent of two children who attended Sandy Hook, I give thanks to God everyday they survived. Shortly after the massacre, we moved to Colorado and I was shocked by the resources, security and prevention measures Colorado schools had in place— standing out was Safe2Tell. I have seen firsthand the positive impact it has had in bringing the school and law enforcement officials together in keeping our schools safe.  I want to thank Reps. Coffman and Himes for trying to ‘export’ this model across the nation, and I wish every student in our country to have a voice through Safe2Tell” –Carly Posey, Sandy Hook Parent/CO Resident

"Safe2Tell is a proven resource that provides us with valuable information, so we can take timely action," said Chris Gdowski, Superintendent of Adams 12 Five Star Schools. "Over the past four years, we've seen our Safe2Tell reports more than double because our communities recognize and embrace the importance of sharing every safety concern, and they can access Safe2Tell 24/7 while maintaining their anonymity."

“Anonymous reporting is critical, so kids feel safe reporting suicide threats from a friend or someone on social media threatening school violence; Colorado's Safe2Tell is a proven model,” said Nancy Ross, Emergency Response & Crisis Specialist with the Brighton 27J School District. 

"The Safe2Tell program has been a vital component of safety in the Douglas County School District," said Rich Payne, Director of Safety and Security at Douglas County School District.  “The key to success is the ability to make young people, the community and our staff part of the solution by recognizing and reporting concerns. The sophistication of Safe2Tell, along with layers of protection ensure that there will be an integrated response with our law enforcement partners. I know that multiple tragedies have been averted and lives have been saved." 

“Safe2tell empowers students to protect themselves and others. For Littleton Public Schools the system and its processes has demonstrated that it saves lives. Safe2tell is one of the most valuable proactive school security processes that has ever been implemented in K-12 Security and will certainly benefit the Country if it deployed nationwide.”Guy Grace, Director of Security and Emergency Planning, Littleton Public Schools.

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Tags: Education

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