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“SAFE2TELL WYOMING” PROGRAM BEGINS IN PARK COUNTY
County law enforcement has teamed with the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office and Park County schools in implementing “Safe2Tell Wyoming.” Safe2Tell is a nationally recognized model for student safety, education, teacher training, and information gathering and dissemination. Using the Safe2Tell protocols, students, parents or county residents can make a confidential report involving school safety issues through the Safe2Tell Wyoming website, smartphone app, or toll free telephone number 24/7. Those reports are quickly sent to designated school officials and law enforcement so that proactive action can be taken.
Colorado has been using Safe2Tell for over ten years and receives numerous tips on possible suicides, drugs, alcohol, violence and more. The program grew out of the tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999 where 12 students and one teacher were murdered by two students. An additional 24 people were injured in the ensuing panic. In the aftermath, it was determined that several students knew ahead of time of what was about to unfold at the school but were afraid to speak out.
Students often won’t speak to their parents, teachers, administrators or others in a position of authority for fear of being ostracized or labeled a “snitch.” Also, many times students with knowledge of an impending safety issue simply don’t know who to tell. Now, they have a confidential means to relay information to school authorities and local law enforcement that may prevent a tragedy or save a life.
Using the Safe2Tell website, smartphone app or toll-free telephone number, tips may be submitted to a central call center in Cheyenne which is staffed 24/7 by personnel from the Wyoming Highway Patrol. The information is strictly confidential. Call takers do not ask for or require the identity of the caller and the reports, by Wyoming statute, are not public record. Instead, the caller is given a code number and password to preserve confidentiality.
Once screened by the call-takers, legitimate reports are forwarded to a team of proper officials, designated school contacts and law enforcement, who will respond to the concern or threat. Tips can range from reporting instances of bullying to possible suicides, drug or alcohol use, pending fights, or other issues of school and student safety. It is up to the local officials to evaluate the reports and handle the situations appropriately. Not all tips will require the involvement of law enforcement but the reports are provided so that local authorities can evaluate and determine the best course of action.
State Auditor and Cody resident Cynthia Cloud knows first-hand the consequences of young people not talking, and believes Safe2Tell will bridge that communication gap. Her son Connor committed suicide in March of 2016, and his friends knew he was thinking about it. "I do not want another child to be burdened with the guilt of knowing that ‘I could have done something, but yet I didn’t do it," Cloud said. “Students use social media to talk to each other and share their feelings and what’s happening in their lives. They don’t talk to teachers, counselors or parents. I really believe that my son could have been saved if this app had been available in March, on March 20th when he took his own life.”
Local law enforcement as well as school administrators encourage parents, students and residents to become familiar with Safet2Tell Wyoming and make use of the services whenever they become aware of an issue that they feel requires intervention. The web address is http://www.safe2tellwy.org/ and the toll-free telephone number is 1-844-WYO-SAFE (844-996-7233). The Safe2Tell smartphone app can be downloaded free of charge from the App Store or Google Play. Simply search on “safe2tellwy.” For more information on Safe2Tell Wyoming, refer to their website at http://www.safe2tellwy.org/.