Governor, lawmakers seek state funding to move school-safety Safe2Tell hotline into AG's office

DENVER - Lawmakers are trying to stabilize funding for a hotline set up to prevent school shootings.

Safe2Tell allows students, teachers and others to anonymously report threats of violence or harm to authorities. It was established five years after the Columbine massacre.

The nonprofit was recently at risk of shutting down, primarily due to a lack of grant funding.

On Tuesday, democratic Governor John Hickenlooper joined republican Attorney General John Suthers and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are seeking state funding for the hotline.

Hickenlooper says nearly 10,000 tips have come in to Safe2Tell in the 10 years that it has been in operation.  Those tips, he said, have prevented 31 school attacks and 1,000 suicides.

Suthers says school violence is still a problem and the need for an anonymous hotline is enormous.

Senate Bill 2, which will be introduced Wednesday, would provide an estimated $250,000 a year for that hotline.

Senate President-Elect Morgan Carroll, D-Aurora, says it is worth the expenditure.

“You’re going to be hard-pressed to find $250,000 that can be better spent,” she said, “when you look at the school violence that has been prevented, when you look at the suicides that have been prevented and the lives that are saved.”

“The challenge,” said Governor Hickenlooper, “is we don’t always know how to make it better and how to best expand it. We just know that it works.”

Senate Minority Leader Bill Cadman, R-Colorado Springs, echoed that sentiment.

He also had a message for kids in the 5th grade.

“If you’re in the fifth grade,” he said, “and you’re afraid to get on the bus because ‘that’ guy is waiting for you, you need to be Safe2Tell.”

He also said, “If you’re in the 8th grade and you get up some morning and tell your parents that you are too sick to go to school because you know that something bad is going to happen because somebody told you, you need to be Safe2Tell.”

The bipartisan bill will keep the program running by moving the operation from the nonprofit sector to the Attorney General’s office.

Suthers told 7NEWS that the AG’s office was instrumental in the creation of the program.

“We have continued to be supportive of the program and believe moving Safe2Tell to the AG’s office will insure its viability and continuing success in future years.”

The U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Dept. of Education reported in 2002 that in 81 percent of violent school disturbances, somebody knew the plans of the attacker but didn’t report it.

Safe2Tell is a tool intended to change that.

“Coloradans have grieved for the lives of too many students and educators who were killed in school attacks,” Carroll said. “We must work together to stop the violence.”

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