'Text a Tip': Easily reach out to school officer

Summit HS program expands to Bend High

POSTED: 6:40 PM PST February 13, 2013    UPDATED: 5:02 PM PST February 14, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

Bend police Sgt. Scott Vincent has roamed the halls of Summit High School for just four months, but he's become a familiar face, armed with a new program known as "Text a Tip."

"It allows them to contact the school's resource officer and communicate with them back and forth and get an idea of what they should do," Vincent said this week.

Since Summit started the system, allowing students to send tips via text messages, Vincent has received more than 90 anonymous messages.

"I've had a couple reports involving child abuse or assault at the home, some involving some pretty dangerous behavior, as far as suicide and things like that," Vincent added.

When a student sends a text, it goes directly to Vincent's phone and email. The phone number is not traced unless it's a more serious situation.

"Some might think, 'Oh, I can get their information' -- and yeah, maybe if it's a criminal matter, I could get a subpoena for that phone number to see who it belongs to. But that would require a crime and a search warrant and really, that's not going to happen," Vincent said.
   
Text a Tip in a national program that's gaining more and more momentum across the country. Summit is the first school to use the program on the High Desert. Now  other schools are starting to follow suit. Mountain View just started and it's slowly, but surely catching on.

"It prevents them from having to go into the office," Vincent said. "It prevents them from having other kids seeing them and the stigma of, 'Hey what were you doing in the SRO's office, are you good? Are you in trouble?"

At first, some students sent prank texts, just to see if it actually worked. Those have since fizzled, and now it's become a digital connection with human help.

"Every person that has texted me has eventually come in to see me, because you tell them, 'I'll meet you in the library, I'll call you after school,'" Vincent said.

Vincent says Text a Tip adds another level of protection, in a place where every student deserves to be safe.

"They're getting plugged in to where they need to be, and it's just another way to communicate with them," he said.

If anyone is interested in the Text a Tip program, Officer Vincent suggests you speak with your school's resource officer or administrator.