Can $250K per year help prevent school shootings? State lawmakers think so

Megan Verlee/CPR News
Many school districts print the Safe2Tell information on the back of students’ ID badges.
Photo: Safe2Tell Program badge
Many school districts print the Safe2Tell information on the back of students' ID badges.

But the program has always been depended on grants for its funding, a perennial precarious situation.

Republican and Democratic leaders in the House and Senate on Tuesday announced a plan to team up on a bill in the upcoming legislative session to move the program into the Attorney General’s office and give it a steady source of money.

The shift is expected to cost taxpayers around $250,000 a year.

"The success is shown, the need is great and it’s time to ensure that as we deal with the threats of violence at school going forward," Attorney General John Suthers said at a press conference to unveil the legislation. “Safe2Tell have a secure and viable funding base.”

By its own statistics, the Safe2Tell program has received 9,818 tips during its nearly ten years in operation.

Of those tips, 2,436 involved bullying, 1,500 were for suicide interventions, 295 concerned assaults and 343 reported guns or other weapons at schools.

"This is a classic example of government doing what it's supposed to do," Governor John Hickenlooper said. "This program has prevented... 31 school attacks since its inception -- that's just what we know about."

The state of Michigan recently approved its own program based on Safe2Tell.

Safe2Tell officials say several things make the program effective: tipsters are guarenteed anonymity and all reports are followed up on.

"There is a code of silence [among kids]," Safe2Tell Director Susan Payne said. "That’s something we’ve had to address for many years. And we when we look at the reason kids don’t speak up, sometimes they fear they’re not going to be listened to, or they’re not going to be believed by an adult."

Safe2Tell is only one of the programs that schools and law enforcement adopted after the Columbine High School attack. Hear more about their response here.