Oklahoma is turning to technology to make it easier to report school threats.
The state has always had a tip line for people to call and a website for reporting violence or school threats, but it wanted something that fit more in-line with how students communicate.
It has now created an anonymous texting system. If someone knows of something that could compromise the safety or security of any Oklahoma school or school-sanctioned event they can text "OKS Threat" to 226787.
An instant automated message comes back, followed up by a text from a real person, an analyst, within minutes.
The two are then are able to text back and forth about the threat. The system is open 24 hours a day and tipsters can even send pictures and videos to help with the investigation.
“We've got to loop those students in. Most of the time they have those eyes and ears, they have the pulse. They're gonna know more, see more, hear more than the teachers, the principals for sure, the superintendent, etc. etc.,” said Executive Director Office of Safety and Security Jon Parker.
The analysts monitor those tips and push them to their partners, like law
And with so many students in distance learning analysts are not just monitoring threats in school buildings, but also threats and bullying that may be happening online.
“Students need to feel safe and comfortable for meaningful learning to occur,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister. “We must do everything in our power to ensure student safety, and we are grateful for this partnership that allows for us to expand the tip line.”
The Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Oklahoma School Security Institute and a division of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security partnered together to create the system.
State leaders say they are always looking at new technology to enhance threat reporting capabilities.
A $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice helped pay for the texting tip line.