Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone announced the Suffolk County Police Department’s Text-A-Tip mobile phone line is now live for the start of the 2018-2019 school year. The Text-A-Tip system is designed exclusively for individuals who have information about an impending threat to school facilities across the county and will allow residents to confidentially share any information pertaining to a threat in a Suffolk County school.
“The new school year is officially here, and it is safe to say that school safety has been on the top of everyone’s mind,” said Bellone. “The Text-A-Tip mobile phone line is part of our continued efforts to enhance school safety and ensure all students, faculty and staff feel safe when entering a school building.”
The Text-A-Tip system is being facilitated by Nixle, a commercial service provider that the Suffolk County Police Department has used for several other applications. Anyone who has information regarding a possible threat to a school in Suffolk County can use this service by texting the number 888-777 and, in the body of the text, writing “TIP SUFFOLK,” followed by the message and the name of the school. The tips will then be configured to generate emails and text messages to the SCPD. This service comes at no additional cost to the county.
The tips will be directed to the SCPD’s Communications section, who will determine where to route the tips based on their content. From there, the SCPD will launch an immediate investigation to determine the credibility of the threat and if it is substantial. Tips will be monitored on a 24/7 basis and school districts will be notified accordingly of tips that affect their facilities.
The texting system allows for two-way communication between those who are providing the tip and the SCPD, should the person providing the tip wish to communicate any further. While the system is confidential, intentional false tips will be prosecuted.
“The Suffolk County Police Department has implemented a strategy aimed at both preventing a school tragedy as well as reducing our response time should a school emergency occur,” said Suffolk County police commissioner Geraldine Hart. “Providing a mobile and confidential outlet for our residents is paramount during this time, and we want to do everything we can here in Suffolk County to ensure that we are prepared and are doing everything possible to prevent a school tragedy.”
The Text-A-Tip initiative is in addition to several other public safety measures recently undertaken by Suffolk County to ensure students, teachers, administrators and staff remain safe while in schools. Last month, Bellone and the Suffolk County Police Department unveiled a multipronged plan designed to increase school safety and decrease response times for emergency personnel. The new initiatives included enhanced patrols to school buildings across Suffolk County to further develop relationships and emergency response plans, assigning additional officers to the SCPD’s Homeland Security section to assess and evaluate school security, and a school resource officer training course.