An anonymous tip line could soon help cut down on thefts, vandalism, drug abuse, and bullying at Wellington High School.
The number would be run through CitizenObserver, whose Tip411 service provides confidential tip lines nationally.
“This is a service that includes phone apps, Facebook integration, as well as the ability to send text, picture, and video messages,” said WHS principal Tina Drake. “Elyria uses it, and it has worked well for them. We’re confident that the results would be the same in Wellington.”
A two-year service contract with Tip411 amounts to $6,700.The school system is still looking for that cash, but Clark considers it a small price to pay for an invaluable public service.
“This is something beneficial for both the school and the community. It’s just a matter now of finding donors,” Drake said. “Tips can deal with anything from bullying and theft to even things like drug activity. There have been recent incidents of vandalism in our bathrooms and locker rooms that I feel could have been prevented with the Tip411 service. Or, at the very least, we could have found out who the perpetrators were.”
Village police chief Tim Barfield shares Drake’s enthusiasm for the program.
“To me this is a no-brainer,” he said. “We’ve been asked about the legality of anonymous tips but I don’t think that’s a legitimate reason to hold this program up. Give us the information, and we will use our resources to properly navigate any legal channels. If someone knows who a heroin dealer is and where they’re operating, fear of identification as an informant or fear of using anonymous tips legally should not be a deterrent from taking action.”
Taking fear out of the equation for those wishing to pass info along is also a very big part of Drake’s motivations to use Tip411.
“When students come to us at our office, they want anonymity,” she said. “When they leave the office, though, the worry of being seen by someone is bound to creep up. The more we open up the door to receive helpful information, the better.”
Barfield also touched on funding, which to this point is a bigger roadblock for the tip line than any legal issues.
“Taxpayers have given and given in recent years, and they’re a bit tapped out at the moment,” he said.”All I can say is that we’re looking into all options. I’ve personally spoken with the attorney general’s office. Most people around here want a good, functional, and safe environment. We want very much to give it to them.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171.