Hotline goes 21st century

I applaud the state of Missouri for taking one of my favorite ideas for deterring campus crime and violence–an anonymous hotline–and moving the concept into the 21st Century.

The state‘s Department of Public Safety recently posted a page on its web site known as “Report It!” As with the hotline, created in 2001, Report It! is intended for use by students, parents and teachers to anonymously report fights, weapons on campus, thefts, and bullying.

The online program came about partially from a suggestion from school administrators who said it is against policy for students to use a mobile phone on campus, but they likely have access to the internet in computer labs and the libraries.

This also could be useful for higher education–students on large campuses who spot problems before administrators can use a hotline to alert authorities.

I have long believed that the overwhelming majority of students plotting crimes brag about their plans either while talking with friends or in posts on social media sites. Hotlines–both telephone- and internet-based–give these friends a way to warn authorities without fear of reprisal.

And hotlines don’t have to be organized at a state level. If your state doesn’t have one, consider putting one together for your own district.

PatrickFielPatrick Fiel is public safety advisor for ADT Security Services and a former executive director of school security for Washington, D.C. Public School System. He also served 22 years in the Army Military Police Corps, where his responsibilities included day-to-day security operations at the West Point Military Academy. During his time with ADT, Fiel has conducted more than 100 television, radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews as a public and school safety expert.

Follow Patrick Fiel on Twitter.

Laura Ascione