Securing our Schools

17-year-old El Capitan High student arrested for making school shooting threat, Merced Police say

Classes went on as scheduled at El Capitan High School on Friday, but news of a school shooting threat had a noticeable impact on the campus.

Officials say 250 students were absent or went home, compared to about 50 or 60 on a typical Friday. Despite the fact, officers arrested the suspect hours before school began.

“We did receive the all-clear this morning for classes to resume as normal,” said Sam Yniguez.

Officials say they first heard of the threat around 11 p.m. Thursday, when a student sent a message through the Merced Union High School District’s Tip411 system.

“It’s an anonymous hotline that lets students or staff report any safety concerns they see or hear about,” Yniguez said. “So once we became aware, the district started working with the Merced Police Department on the investigation.”

Police also received a call from that student’s mother and immediately began following leads. By 5:30 a.m., they had arrested the 17-year-old El Capitan student and taken two guns from his home.

“This individual we have in custody has been in contact with law enforcement before, so we’re looking into what his background is,” said Lt. Jay Struble. “Our detectives are still looking into this case, getting information off his social media accounts, his electronic devices, phones, computers all that to come up with a possible motive.”

This case comes after a Golden Valley High freshman was arrested last April for making a false active shooter report over a school radio, prompting a massive law enforcement response.

Police say they have to take every threat seriously, and they hope students will do the same.

“You never know which one could be the one to create an unfortunate situation just like yesterday in Santa Clarita,” Lt. Struble said.

The suspect, in this case, is being held in juvenile hall for making criminal threats, but police say the district attorney’s office could choose to charge him as an adult.

The possible punishment ranges from fines and probation to prison time depending on what prosecutors and the court system decide.

Read the full story from ABC30.com

Hebron Schools Tips

Hebron Schools awarded grant for tip411

Safety is a top priority at Hebron Schools. Thanks to Kankakee Valley REMC’s Operation Round Up, Hebron now has one more way to help their students feel safe. The company awarded the a grant school to help cover the costs of an anonymous tip line.

The Hebron Tip411 app allows students to report concerns to administrators and school resource officers without the worry of retaliation. Hebron Middle School Principal Jeff Brooks says, “This empowers students to have a voice in keeping their school a safe place.” Students can send a message through the app or simply text their concerns. The app also allows them to include images and video.

Since the launch in late August, staff and administrators have received over 20 reports that have enabled them to be proactive in preventing student concerns from becoming serious events. Reports on potential bullying, fighting, vaping, drug use, and student welfare are just a few of the tips that have been received by administrators.

“Over half of our tips have included photos or screenshots of the issue being reported,” School Safety Director, Mike Grennes says. The photos and screenshots give administrators an advantage in determining how to track down and handle these concerns.

Lake Co Sheriff Department

Editorial: On drugs, alcohol, resist being the ‘cool’ parent

Deciding to become a whistle-blower is a process fraught with questions and doubt.

You worry about what people will think of you. You worry about becoming a pariah. You worry about how your revelation will affect others, often people you know.

You must be able to convince yourself that by exposing nefarious activity, you will eliminate a dangerous situation and, in the end, make things better.

Not all whistle-blower complaints will lead to presidential impeachment inquiries. In Lake County, the sheriff’s office is entering a four-year trial program with the Stand Strong Coalition to facilitate a crackdown on teen drinking and drug use by encouraging parents and kids to make anonymous tips.

“Parents and students tell me all of the time that they know where underage drinking is occurring, and they worry for the youth involved,” Jamie Epstein, executive director of the Stand Strong Coalition, told our Doug Graham. “However, they have not found a way to share their tips with police in a way that feels comfortable to them. We are pleased to partner with the Lake County sheriff’s office to offer parents and youth this tool to do the right thing when they know of illegal and unsafe activity.”

To anonymously send in a tip to the Lake County Sheriff’s office, send a text message to 847-411 and start the message with “123 TIP.” You’re encouraged to include as much detail as possible. The sheriff’s office will act as go-between, sharing the tip with the appropriate law enforcement agency.

You might shrug and say, “Kids will be kids. We did it when we were younger.”

Perhaps some of us did, but not all of us made it to adulthood.

The Drug or Alcohol Impaired Minor Responsibility Act became law 15 years ago after a raucous hazing ritual at a Glenbrook North High School powder puff football game resulted in a drunken brawl that landed five girls in the hospital.

It bears repeating every homecoming season that any adult who supplies alcohol or drugs to minors is liable for what might happen later — usually when someone gets behind the wheel of a car.

If you find the distinction between right and wrong elusive in situations like this, just know that you could face limitless damages if someone were to be killed as a result of you being a “cool” parent.

With the legalization of recreational cannabis for adults just around the corner, this message is more important than ever.

Read the full article from the Daily Herald

Safer Schools Screenshot

An app allows students to message their principals when they hear a threat. Find out which districts are using it

We’re used to seeing teenagers with faces glued to their phones to text a friend, but now students in the North Syracuse Central School District have an app to message their principal.

So far, the anonymous form of communication has stopped fights in the hallway and busted students vaping in the bathroom, but the app allows students who see something, to say something, when they see a threat on social media.

Tip411 is a technology suggested by the Onondaga County School Safety Task Force, which was put together last year by the Onondaga County District Attorney after 17 people will killed in the Parkland, Florida high school shooting.

DA Bill Fitzpatrick says he was compelled to put together the group, knowing that police missed many warning signs in Parkland.

Tip411 is already available to all citizens in Onondaga County, as a way to reach their local police. But now, many school districts are getting the app, or something similar, for students to talk with administrators.

NewsChannel 9 surveyed local superintendents and based on their responses and what’s available publicly on district websites, these are what the district’s offer in terms of anonymous tip lines:

Tip411

  • North Syracuse (uses Tip411)
  • West Genesee (uses Tip411 and Tip Line)
  • Westhill (uses Tip 411)
  • Solvay (uses Tip 411 and Tip Line)
  • Syracuse (working on implementing Tip411)
  • Marcellus (working on implementing Tip411 )

See the full story from News Channel 9

Waxahachie ISD

Waxahachie ISD launches anonymous crime reporting app

Students of the Waxahachie Independent School District can now anonymously report suspicious activities using their cellphones.

tip411 allows students, staff, parents and the wider community to ” to share important safety information anonymously with district and campus administrators by sending them secure messages with information about bullying, drug use, and suspicious or potentially criminal activity via a free smartphone app,” according to a Friday press release.

“When a tip comes in, it will go to the campus administrator, our district head of security, our superintendent and the executive director of secondary or elementary learning, depending on if the tip is for an elementary or secondary campus,” District Spokesperson Jenny Bridges said.

The Waxahachie ISD says the free mobile app allows students and staff to play a role in keeping their schools safe without fear of retribution.

“Waxahachie ISD students excel in every area, from academics to fine arts to athletics and more,” said Dr. Bonny Cain, Waxahachie ISD Superintendent. “But our students can’t achieve if they don’t feel safe, and we believe the tip411 anonymous reporting system will add another level of safety and security to our campuses.”

The launch comes on the heels of an incident at Midlothian High School on Sept. 6 where the school went into lockdown after two students reported to staff what the District called “a possible threat.” The lockdown lasted several hours while police, dressed in combat gear and carrying heavy machinery, combed the building.

“We always encourage our students if they see or hear something to say something,” said Midlothian Independent School District Superintendent Lane Ledbetter in a statement posted on Facebook hours after the lockdown was lifted. “These two students did just that – reported what they thought they saw and heard.”

“After a long and thorough investigation, the Midlothian Police Department deemed the threat was unsubstantiated,” Ledbetter added.

tip411 is already being used by schools, police departments and community groups across the country. Critics of the app, however, say the system might become overwhelmed with frivolous tips that will take away the attention of investigators from serious incidents.

“The tip411 system has been successful in communities across the U.S.,” said Terry Halsch, president of tip411, in the release. “We are excited to work with Waxahachie ISD to bring our innovative app and text a tip system to connect and engage students directly to participate in promoting safety in their halls.”

Those without the app can still text anonymously by sending a message to 847411, beginning with a keyword linked to the school they are reporting about.

Read the full story from WaxahachieTX.com

BJA - Bureau of Justice Assistance U.S Department of Justice

tip411 is a Qualified Program for DOJ-BJA Grant Funds

Through its Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the U.S. Department of Justice is releasing over $34M in grant funds for state and local jurisdictions to prevent and reduce school violence through use of technology. tip411 is a qualified program to provide through the use of these grant funds.

As you may know, BJA is the primary provider of criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions.

The BJA STOP School Violence grant clearly outlines use of this kind of technology, tip411, as a priority.  In fact, BJA plans to make up to 17 awards of up to $250,000 each under its Category 7: Technology and Reporting.  The main objective under this category is “to implement a technological solution, such as an anonymous reporting technology, that can be implemented as a mobile phone-based app, a hotline, or a website in the applicant’s geographic area designed to enable students, teachers, faculty, and community members to anonymously identify threats of school violence…  The proposed technology solution should be used to help prevent incidents before they occur.”

tip411 is a cost-effective web based toolset that allows law enforcement to communicate with, and get tips from, the community across a variety of channels including custom branded apps, 2-way anonymous text messages, community alerts via email, text and social media.

Applications are due June 11, 2019.  To reiterate, tip411 is a qualified program to provide through these grant funds and we have staff on hand to help assist you in preparing your application to include our technology as part of your overall strategy.

Have questions? Contact us today!

Marion County Sheriff's Office

Marion Sheriff’s Office Investigates Alleged School Threat

Officers from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office acted quickly after receiving a tip of a “possible threat of violence” at a Marion County High School on Tuesday. The tip was received via the Marion County Sheriff’s Office tip411 app shortly after 11 PM Tuesday night.

Using the information from the submitted tip, deputies investigated the claim and determined that no threat against the schools existed. The school administrators were involved throughout the process, being notified of the tip when it was received and were later notified when the investigation concluded.

“The purpose of the partnership with the schools and the tip411 app was done in an effort to help school administrators and law enforcement provide a safe environment for our students in Marion County schools,” Sheriff Bailey stated. “Our students can be the eyes and ears and assist us in keeping a safe learning environment. They can do so without fear of retaliation by using the app, which allows them to provide us with information anonymously.”

“tip411” is an app designed to be utilized by students to provide information to school administrators and law enforcement about threats and offenses such as bullying, violent threats, drug use, suspicious activity, and other such acts. Providers of tips can remain 100% anonymous when sending a tip while conversing with officials.

Read the story from WMFD.com

Inver Grove Heights Police Cruiser

Inver Grove Heights PD Launches New Text Tip Tool

In a day when technology reigns, the Inver Grove Heights Police Department decided to turn to the devices that are almost always attached to people’s hands to help fight crime.

The department announced via its Facebook page Nov. 7 it will utilize Tip411, a program that allows folks to submit tips the way many communicate most — via text message.

Utilizing phones

Chief Paul Schnell said the program has been around for a number of years and is used by agencies in Minnesota and across the country.

“We know simply that we have a texting culture and people want to provide information, but one of the things that keeps some people from reporting or calling or providing information is the fact that they’re concerned about their anonymity,” he said.

Tip411 allows people to send texts that get filtered through an automated system. Schnell said the department doesn’t know who sent the tip — it can be text or a picture — and the system allows the department to communicate back to the tipster.

The day the post was made about the new feature, Schnell said the department received a useful tip through it. Someone let police know about a dump truck that was stolen from a business on Concord Street. The truck had also pulled down wires.

The department was able to communicate back with the tipster and verify the information. The tipster, however, never had to identify themself.

Tip411 is a product of St. Paul-based Citizen Observer. Schnell said he has used the system in other communities like Hastings and Maplewood, where it helped the department identify a homicide suspect and solve the case.

Use in the schools

Schnell said ISD 199 is also launching the Tip411 program, with the aim of improving school safety at the middle and high schools.

Superintendent Dave Bernhardson said the program was brought to the school’s attention by Schnell.

“Once we had that dialogue, we felt it was a very, very good opportunity for both of us to partner to get great information and obtain information from our kids, when needed,” said Bernhardson.

He said the district hopes students use the new tool as a safe space to communicate with officials about things that are concerning them.

“There seems, I guess we’ll find out, an unlimited amount of things that they can communicate, because in the end we want to make sure everything is as safe as possible for our kids,” Bernhardson said.

Schnell said Tip411 could be a mechanism for someone to report if they know of another student bringing a weapon to school. It could also be used for other things like reporting bullying or a student worried about another student talking about suicide.

“Ultimately, what it does is help create a safer school environment by getting good information to administrators to vet and sort through, and ultimately identify solutions,” Schnell said.

Bernhardson added any information gleaned over Tip411 would need to be confirmed, so he sees it as no different than other means of communication.

Read the full story from LillieNews.com

More School Safety Measures

tip411 Part of Push for More School Safety Measures in McKinney, Texas

McKinney ISD Superintendent Rick McDaniel and McKinney Mayor George Fuller held a town hall meeting with the public Wednesday night to discuss concerns and suggestions related to the safety and security of children at MSID.

“We got a lot of what we hoped for,” Fuller said, referring to personal observations from those outside the district as well.

Much of the discussion focused on what safety measures the district currently has in place, including the number of new security cameras across the district.

MISD also has Crisis Counselors dedicated to bullying on campuses and a Tip 411 line, which allows students to anonymously report if they hear rumors or concerns about safety and security.

Read the full story from Community Impact Newspaper