- Associated Press - Monday, March 30, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Recent legislation that would have replaced a school-safety tip line serving Wyoming with an in-state program has generated debate over whether the existing program is sufficient.

Wyoming is paying about $25,000 a year for the WeTip hotline program run by a nonprofit through a call center in California.

The program handles an average of about 30 online and phone tips a year for Wyoming, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports (https://bit.ly/1G93jdH ).

One problem with WeTip is a lag between the time tips about possible school threats are called in and when they are passed along to police, said Byron Oedekoven, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police.

“We don’t believe it is advertised well, and there are some serious concerns about its administration,” Oedekoven said. “And I can say that because of the experiences we have had with the incredible lag time of when a tip comes in and when we actually get the correspondence.”

Last winter, Wyoming legislators seriously considered but ultimately didn’t approve a state-run program called Safe2Tell. The in-state program cleared the House and Senate, but lawmakers didn’t agree on legislation that would pass both chambers.

Comparing the two programs is unfair because of their different priorities, WeTip Chief Executive Officer Susan Aguilar said.

“Our basic mission is to get the basic information so we can catch the bad guy,” she said. “What we found with Safe2Tell is that they are more interested in keeping stats, and that is not our goal.”

WeTip also is more focused on protecting the identity of the people who provide the tips, she said. The Safe2Tell program would have disclosed the names of tipsters who voluntarily provided their identities.

The Safe2Tell program would have been modeled after a Colorado program developed after the Columbine High School shooting in 1999. The in-state program would have required a one-time appropriation of $225,000 and up to $410,000 each year to pay for as many as five new positions.


Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, https://www.wyomingnews.com

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