By B.C. Manion
When students hear a rumor about a weapon on campus, or know that there bullies running wild – they may want to tell someone, but may be afraid of potential consequences.
Now, there’s a new tool in Pasco County’s public schools that aims to help school officials and law enforcement prevent and prosecute crime on school campuses.
Pasco County Sheriff Bob White and Pasco schools Superintendent Heather Fiorentino announced the Campus Crime Stoppers program at a joint news conference last week.
The initiative, which began the first day of school, gives students three ways to anonymously report criminal activity or a suspect, by calling a 24-hour, toll-free hotline, by going to a website, or by texting it in.
The student provides the name and location of the school, along with a description of the criminal activity or the suspect and the program’s coordinator passes that information along to the school resource officer.
Like the traditional crime stopper program, rewards are provided for tips that lead to arrests.
At the time of the news conference, the district had already received 15 anonymous tips, said Summer Romagnoli, school district spokeswoman.
“We’re hoping it will give our students peace of mind in knowing they can report crimes and bullying without any fear of retribution and retaliation,” Romagnoli said.
Besides, students are an excellent source of information, she added.
“Nobody knows what’s going on in their peer group better than the students themselves,” Romagnoli said. “We want to involve them (students) in keeping our campuses safe.”
In addition to the news conference, the district held a poster contest to bring attention to the program and it printed information about it on the back page of a planner it gives to each student to help plan the year ahead, Romagnoli said.
More than 400 entries were received in the poster contest. The winners – created by Rebecca Baer of Zephyrhills High School, Frances Calderin of Rushe Middle School and Savannah Hall of Wesley Chapel Elementary School — now grace walls in schools throughout the district.
To share anonymous tips
Campus Crime Stoppers hotline (800) 873-8477
Web tip: http://www.crimestopperstb.com
Text tip: C-R-I-M-E-S , keyword CSTB
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.