HARRISBURG – Bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Pat Browne (R-16), Vincent J. Hughes (D-7) and Scott Martin (R-13) and supported by Attorney General Josh Shapiro creating a new school threat monitoring system in an effort to help reduce school violence is scheduled for a final vote in the Senate today (May 22nd).
The Safe2Say Program would allow anonymous reporting of threats regarding unsafe, potentially harmful, dangerous, violent or criminal activities in schools.
“I am pleased the Senate is moving quickly to enact this important legislation that will provide a confidential, anonymous way for students to report any suspicious behavior or activity they have witnessed or that has been brought to their attention,” Senator Browne, Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee said. “Students may not feel comfortable bringing the actions, comments or behavior of their fellow classmates to the attention of authority if they must identify themselves in the process. However, students are more likely to feel comfortable and safe if they are able to report these concerns anonymously.”
Senate Bill 1142 was modeled after a similar system created in Colorado – the Safe2Tell program – following the tragic school shootings at Columbine High School in 1999. Since its inception, Colorado authorities have received more than 30,000 reports of potentially dangerous situations.
“With another school shooting taking place last Friday in Texas, I’m grateful that the Senate is moving quickly to pass SB 1142,” Senator Hughes said. “I believe the Safe2Say program is a common sense proposal that will save lives by providing a central location for students and others to report potential threats and other activity. We have much more work left to do to protect our children, our schools and our communities and the passage of the Safe2Say program today is a good first step.
“I want to thank Senator Browne, Senator Martin and Attorney General Shapiro on this legislation. The safety of our children is not a partisan issue. I also want to thank Senator Scarnati, Senator Corman and Senator Costa for moving SB 1142 out of the Senate so quickly. I call on the House of Representatives to do the same so we can get this bill to Governor Wolf’s desk.”
This legislation, which passed both the Senate Education and Appropriations Committees unanimously, would require the Attorney General to administer the system and ensure the information can be sent to the appropriate law enforcement agency and school officials for further investigation.
“In light of the tragedies that have taken place in communities throughout the country, school safety needs to be among our highest priorities. Creating a strong threat reporting system is the first step in that process,” Senator Martin said. “It is extremely encouraging to see members of both parties come together to help create a safer environment for students.”
The Attorney General’s office would create the system, which would accept the anonymous complaints through a hotline, online or an app. The program will cover emergency and non-emergency reports. It is not meant to replace 911 services, to be used as a disciplinary tool for school employees or as a law enforcement tool. And, there is a provision in the bill for persons knowingly or intentionally making a false report.
“At least five other states have created school safety programs like Safe2Say, and I commend Senators Browne, Hughes and others for their leadership in bringing this initiative to Pennsylvania,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “It’s a choice we are making to allow gun violence in Pennsylvania schools. The Senate is making a choice today to prevent this kind of violence.”
At least five other states have created similar programs.
Matt Moyer (Senator Browne) (717) 787-1349, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wesley Robinson (Senator Hughes) (717) 787-3497, email@example.com
Terry Trego (Senator Martin) (717) 787-6535, firstname.lastname@example.org
Carolyn M. Simpson (Attorney General Shapiro) (717) 787-7157, email@example.com