OSP's 'SafeOregon' school safety reporting program records dramatic increase in tips

In its limited use, so far SafeOregon has shown to be a helpful tool. Since the tip line launched in January 2017, it's received more than 381 tips. And in one case it prevented a suicide.

In the wake of Florida's deadly school shooting, authorities say the state's school safety reporting program, SafeOregon, saw a dramatic increase in submitted tips.

SafeOregon is a way for students to alert authorities to information that may be useful in preventing school attacks, bullying, and suicidal behaviors. The program is available to all public and private schools in Oregon.

Students can report situations in several ways, including calling and texting. Those tips are then sorted by urgency and given to local law enforcement.

“Sometimes we have received information about threats to schools, and then adults at the local area, the local law enforcement and the schools work together on what that information is,” said project manager Jodie Sherwood.

Since the tip line's inception, SafeOregon has received more than 300 tips.

Last quarter (Sept. 2017 – Nov. 2017), SafeOregon received a total of 124 tips. In this year's first quarter (Dec. 2017 – Feb. 2018), it received 381, a 307 percent increase.

The "Top 5" incident types (with the comparison of percentage change from last quarter):

  • 135 Bullying or harassment (up 59% from last quarter)
  • 69 Threat to safety (up 86% from last quarter)
  • 48 Possession; use; or distribution of drugs (up 60% from last quarter)
  • 41 Threat of assault (up 78% from last quarter)
  • 28 Suicide concern reported by another person (up 75% from last quarter)

Between the two quarters, "Threat to Safety" tips rose by 11 percent of our total overall tips and Bullying/Harassment decreased by 6 percent.

So far, 910 public and private schools in Oregon have enrolled and around 300 more have yet to sign on to the system.

Salem-Keizer School District announced it was enrolling March 1.

Spokesperson Lillian Govus told KATU the district delayed joining until it knew the young program could appropriately accommodate its 42,000 students.

Some school districts say they shared similar feelings, while others say they already have a reporting program in place.

The program is free.

Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts -- who's largely championed the program -- says they are working with law enforcement agencies, districts and community organizations to raise awareness about the program and how it helps.

He says SafeOregon is tailored to students.

"Today’s youth really have to have a platform for this technology-driven, a text system, that is anonymous and confidential," Roberts told KATU. "The bottom line is a lot of students and citizens in our community do not want to be known as snitches, so you have to create an avenue where people can report anonymously, that gives us the ability to step in."

This year, Roberts says SafeOregon plans to ask the state Legislature for funding, around $2 million, which he says, will be used to expand the program and hire threat assessment coordinators.

The coordinators will be placed regionally throughout the state, will monitor submitted tips, categorize and prioritize and alert school officials and law enforcement, if needed. OSP oversees the coordinators.

"We hear often on the tragedies that we weren't able to prevent," Portland FBI Agent Renn Cannon said. "It's an important thing to remember that there are a lot of tragedies that are being prevented through things like SafeOregon and these task forces and this information sharing."

If you have a tip to report, go to their website, call them at (844) 472-3367, or email tip@safeoregon.com.

They also have a mobile app on iTunes and Google Play.

There's also an Oregon Youth Line provided by Lines for Life.

The FBI provides resources and records of active shooter incidents.

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