A new program called the Student Safety Line has been implemented in Linn County. The program creates a new avenue for students to reach out to local law enforcement with information about illegal activities or contraband. Officer Charity Hansel explains the program more in depth.
“We have a program for all the high schools, it’s called the Student Safety Line, and what we want kids to do is if they have information that a student on campus has weapons, drugs, or alcohol, that they contact the Cedar Rapids Crime Stoppers,” Hansel said. They have already received two tips this year.
Students can either text CRIMES or 274637 and in the message or subject type 5227 and then the tip. They can also call 1-800-CR-CRIME. The text or calls go to the Cedar Rapids Crime Stoppers, who then wires the tip to Hansel electronically who then follows up on it. While it’s not enough evidence for probable cause, Hansel says it helps steer them in the right direction for further investigation.
The program also offers an award, according to Hansel. “What kids need to know is if they give us information that leads to us confiscating weapons or drugs, or alcohol on campus that they could be eligible for a $50 reward.” Students can earn their reward after the contraband is confiscated and the Crime Stoppers contact them, where they can then choose whether or not to identify themselves. Even then, Hansel and the school are unaware of the identity of the person tipping off.
In cases where a tip is giving bad or false information, Hansel explained that they might go back and contact that person giving the information. “If we do suspect that it’s some kind of harassment deal, the best thing I can do is go back the alleged suspect and say, ‘OK we believe that maybe this is being made up,’” Hansel said. “Then what we can do is follow through with a false report through the Crime Stoppers against the person whose texting bad information.”
“We want to make the schools safer and this is one way kids can do it without having to identify themselves,” Hansel said.