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.

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

Ascension Parish Sheriff Cruiser

“If you use it correctly…it will work for your agency and community.”

tip411 interviewed Public Information Officer Allison Hudson of the Ascension Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana.

Q: How has the tip411 system aided your agency?
A: It’s been a great tool for residents to have another way to submit tips and our’s is used a lot. With tip411, if they want to reach us anonymously, they can. We’ve done several programs through tip411, like a few years ago when we were having a string of pharmacy break-ins, we met with them and signed them up on tip411 to share information. Another way is we’ve used tip411 in our school system for bullying.

Q: Any notable tips/arrests credited to tip411 that come to mind?
A: We had a homicide in 2014 that was a 16 year old kid who went missing and we received a tip from someone who noticed some similarities with a known person. Long story short he provided information to help us solve the crime and he and others were arrested in conjunction with the homicide.

Q: Tell us about your community, agency, and how you heard about tip411?
A: We have about 120,000 people in the parish, with 350 employees at the Sheriff’s Office.We heard about tip411, did a free demo, and we signed up from there.

Q: How is tip411 administered in your department (responsibilities, protocols, etc.)?
A:  I monitor all of the tips and the 24/7 dispatch center monitors them outside of normal business hours. All of our lieutenants and captains have access to these tips as well. If we’re working a homicide, a detective will be assigned to checking those tips real-time. Every division head has access and are responsible for checking and responding to tips and they send me an email to let me know if a tip can be closed out or not. I keep a list of how many cases are solved based on tips that are received. We also have a School Security Division and the lieutenant checks those tips and will send it to the officers stationed in schools if tips pertain to their school.

Q: What have you done to brand and promote the tip411 system in your community to make your residents aware of it?
A: Related to use in schools for bullying, we made it so every computer’s first screen when students login is about reporting a tip using tip411. It has the number and instructions on how to do it. We’ve also done billboards, advertising in the newspaper, digital ads, etc. for people to submit a tip. We also use and have success with CrimeStoppers and we have a card we give out to residents at community police events, during violent crimes, or anything that we might be looking for related to crime in neighborhoods, and one side has the tip411 information and the other side has CrimeStoppers. It definitely has worked. We also share information on our social media channels and in every press release I send out about a crime, I put information about how to submit tips through tip411.

Q: Have you noticed an increase in the number of tips your agency is receiving and cases you are solving since implementing tip411?
A: We get two types of tips – narcotics tips and bullying tips. Narcotics tips are pretty steady, but when I put out warrant alerts in the newspaper, we see a jump. I see about a 98% rate for tips when I put out information about Narcotics warrants. Bullying tips pickup at the beginning of school, over breaks, and at the end of the year.

Q: Can you tell me more about your success with tip411 in schools?
A: We’ve had several tips where students share information about threats and our crisis response team goes to the schools and arrests are made. We get screenshots of Snapchats, Instagram messages/posts, things we would never find without tip411. School administrators and staff see it as useful and teachers have used tip411 to share information as well. We talk to the student body about how to use it at assemblies, what it’s used for, not to use it incorrectly and what the consequences are. We have cards specifically made for students to explain to them, in a simple way, how to use tip411.

Q: Any advice for other agencies considering tip411?
A: I think it’s a good tool to use. We found that people really do just want to submit information and remain anonymous. If you use it correctly – if you go through the webinars, and the trainings, and actually get officers and businesses involved, get residents signed up – it will work for your agency and community.

Effingham County, Georgia Sheriff’s Office Launches tip411

The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office has launched a new app for customized crime fighting. It’s called “tip411.”

The tip411 app is designed to help you better connect to law enforcement, find information, view alerts, and submit anonymous tips. It is now available to download in your app store.

“There are a lot more eyes and ears out there other than just deputies and law enforcement that can give us information,” said Effingham County Sheriff, Jimmy McDuffie. “It allows residents to not only submit tips, but access agency alerts. We have a crime mapping program that’s on it. When we do any alerts, they’ll go out on the Tip411 program, Facebook, and Twitter.”

The Effingham County School District has also implemented tip411.

See the full story from WTOC

Ashland City Police new logo

New Ashland City Police Department app allows communication, anonymous tips

Ashland City residents can download an app to better communicate — even anonymously — with their local police department.

The Ashland City Council approved a contract with tip411 in September, a three-year contract covered by the police department’s budget, Chief Marc Coulon explained at the meeting.

Tip411 is a web-based tool used in law enforcement agencies, schools and coalitions, according to its website.

Ashland City’s police department “is increasing its crime-fighting arsenal” by launching the avenue for the public to find information, receive alerts from the department and submit anonymous tips. Officers can respond back and engage in conversation with the anonymous tipsters.

The free app is available to Apple and Android users, and residents can also sign up using the Town of Ashland City’s website. Those without a smartphone can also send anonymous tips by texting ACPDTIP and their message to the department to 847411 (tip411), according to a tip411 release sent by the Ashland City Police Department.

“Our mission is to reduce crime and the fear of crime through outstanding police services in partnership with the community,” Coulon said in the release. “We believe the addition of this new app will allow us to have an even deeper crime-fighting partnership with our residents.”

Coulon previously told the Times that even Cheatham County residents outside of Ashland City can use the app to send anonymous tips to the Ashland City Police Department, which can relay the tip to the correct jurisdiction.

“The Ashland City Police tip411 Mobile app will greatly improve the public’s access to agency alerts, social media channels, important information, and more to help fight crime,” tip411 President Terry Halsch said in the release. “We’ve listened to feedback from partners like (the) Ashland City Police Department and have built more advanced and innovative products to help departments better engage their communities.”

Ashland City police can also send notifications — including maps, images, links, case information, suspect or missing person information and more — to users. Those alerts can also be posted to the department’s social media accounts. Deputies will be able to log into tip411 from anywhere with internet access on any device.

Read the story from the Nashville Tennessean

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

Augusta Police

Augusta police say there is no ‘direct threat’ after anonymous Cony High School tip

City police said school operations will carry on as usual on Thursday after an anonymous tip alluding to “a possible threat of violence involving a firearm and Cony High School” late Wednesday night.

“There did not appear to be any direct threats, however due to the nature of this incident, (police) immediately identified the Augusta juvenile, and embarked in an extensive investigation into the alleged threats,” Deputy Chief Kevin Lully wrote in a Thursday morning press release. “(Police) are working in conjunction with the school, parent and the student involved, all of whom are working very cooperatively with Police.”

Lully said police were in contact with the juvenile “within an hour” after the tip was received at about 10 p.m. He said there were no charges being considered “at this time” against the juvenile.

Lully told the Kennebec Journal that the threat was not leveled against a specific student, but the school in general. Despite the reported threat, he wrote in the release that “Augusta Schools continue to be safe for all users at this time.”

No additional police presence is expected at the school on Thursday, Lully said, but officers will be “highly visible” if students, staff, visitors or parents have questions about the incident.

According to police reports, a report of terrorizing was investigated on Tracy Street at 10:32 p.m.

The Augusta Police Department would like to thank the administration at Cony High and all our community partners for assisting us so we could bring this incident to closure as soon as possible.

The anonymous tip was communicated through the new mobile application, “Tip411,” that was launched earlier this month.

View the full story from the Kennebec Journal

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

Keep your school safe tip411

tip411 Can Help Students Keep Their Schools Safe

Like many of you, the recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida has left us wondering what more we can do to help protect our kids in school.

While there’s no easy solution, we believe tip411 can help students to more effectively share information anonymously with administrators and/or law enforcement.

tip411 School Edition enables students to send anonymous tips to Administrators, School Resource Officers (SROs), and other authorized personnel who can respond to the tips in real time from any internet connected device, creating a two way anonymous chat.

It provides a “safe space” for students to communicate with authority figures through two-way anonymous communications that facilitate dialogue, leading to more accurate information.

“Our SRO’s have great relationships with many students, but tip411 allows our SRO’s to build relationships with students they have not yet been able to reach. tip411 also promotes kids being responsible for the safety of their schools and having them take that kind of ownership is priceless.” – McKinney Independent School District’s Director of Safety, Greg Hill

Many communities across the US have begun to use tip411 to improve school safety, and examples of how they’ve use it can be found here:

We encourage you to contact us for a free demo of tip411 School Edition and examples from across the US where our solutions have been implemented to empower students to help protect their schools.