Commonwealth Journal

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January 19, 2013

SPD unveils texting program targeting students

Somerset —  

Local police are reining in texting technology in their newest efforts to prevent violence in schools. 
Somerset Police Department’s new “See-Hear-Report” program officially goes into effect tomorrow (Monday, Jan. 21), and it’s set up to allow officers to receive important information — but with complete anonymity on the part of the texter. 
“They (texters) should not fear sending that information to us because we don’t know who sent it,” said Lt. Shannon Smith, with SPD.
Smith said through a press release that the program “allows a direct line to Somerset Police by way of text messaging and web tips. 
“Students are encouraged to submit tips about school violence, bullying, drugs, or other concerns that may affect school safety,” Smith continued in the press release. “Their texts and web tips will be confidential and anonymous.”
Smith said acting SPD Police Chief Major Doug Nelson first came across a similar Colorado program that targets bullying during an International Association of Chiefs of Police conference.  
“Students may be apprehensive about divulging sensitive information to an officer face-to-face,” Nelson said in the press release. “Text messaging is a common communication method for them these days and we want to make it easy for them to pass information to us that could save lives.”
A significant number of high school students carry cell phones to school. SPD’s new program automatically allows those students access to an anonymous tip line through a tool that many young people use more than actual voice phone calls. 
Those students who don't have a cell phone can navigate to the police department's Facebook page or website to submit a tip. Those tips utilize an anonymous form as well. 
Smith said SPD is working through a Utah company that provides law enforcement with text and web tip solutions. 

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