SUFFOLK COUNTY— On Friday, Sept. 7, officials announced the Suffolk County Police Department’s Text-a-Tip mobile phone line is now live for the start of the 2018-2019 school year.
The system is designed exclusively for individuals who have information about possible threats to school facilities across the county, allowing residents to confidentially share any information about a threat in a Suffolk County school.
“The new school year is officially here, and it is safe to say that school safety has been on the top of everyone’s mind,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said, adding that the Text-a-Tip mobile phone line is part of the administration’s continued efforts to “enhance safety” and ensure students, faculty and staff “feel safe when entering a school building.”
Nixle, a commercial service provider that the SCPD has used for several other applications, is facilitating the Text-a-Tip system, according to officials.
Anyone who has information regarding a possible threat to a school in Suffolk County can use this service by texting the number 888-777 and in the body of the text write “TIP SUFFOLK,” followed by the message and the name of the school. The tips will then be configured to generate e-mails and text messages to the SCPD.
The tips will be directed to the SCPD’s communications section, which will determine where to route the tips based on their content, and from there the SCPD will launch an immediate investigation to determine the credibility of the threat and if it is substantial, officials said.
Tips will be monitored on a 24/7 basis and school districts will be notified accordingly of tips that affect their facilities. The texting system allows for two-way communication between those who are providing the tip and the SCPD, should the person providing the tip wish to communicate any further.
While the system is confidential, intentional false tips will be prosecuted, officials said, adding that the service comes at no additional cost to the SCPD.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart says the SCPD has implemented a strategy aimed at both preventing school tragedies and reducing response time, should a school emergency occur. “Providing a mobile and confidential outlet for our residents is paramount during this time,” Hart said.
To spread awareness about the initiative, officials said the mobile phone line will be promoted over social media and posters will be distributed to school districts with all the appropriate information.
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