Volume No. 15 Issue No. 8 August 2018  

  Marijuana tax provides funds for Safe2Tell
  By Lindsey Harrison

     On Aug. 24, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed into law House Bill 18-1434, which appropriates $164,920 from the marijuana tax cash fund to the Safe2Tell program. The new law goes into effect Aug. 8.
   According to the Safe2Tell website, the program was created following the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado; it aims “to provide an anonymous venue for parents, students, teachers, school administrator, and law enforcement to share information.”
   The program has received tips ranging from suicide threats, planned school attacks, sexual assault, vandalism and child abuse to bullying, unsafe driving and fighting. In February, the program received 2,292 total reports, with 295 planned school attacks reports and 261 suicide threat reports. The website states that the total represents a 157 percent increase from February 2017.
   HB18-1434 outlines new duties for the Safe2Tell program including the following: "requiring the Safe2Tell program to prepare an annual report that analyzes data from the program and makes recommendations on improving the program.”
   Safe2Tell is now a funded program of the Colorado Department Law, Office of the Attorney General.
   According to the bill, the Safe2Tell program must use the funds to provide additional training and support for both schools and law enforcement on how to reduce the occurrence of false reporting or misuse in the program. The additional training and support will include educational materials appropriate for preschool, elementary and secondary schools, according to the bill.
   Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said using money from the marijuana tax fund was decided, in part, because there appears to be a link between the types of reports received by Safe2Tell and the reports of marijuana use seen throughout the state. “We get a lot of reports about substance abuse or drug abuse at parties,” she said.
   The money will allow the Safe2Tell program to be more visible to the public and provide training in schools, Coffman said.
   “The number of reports (to Safe2Tell) has gone up every year,” she said. “It stretches our staff to be able to actually come out and talk to the schools, but we do know that whenever we go out and do training, the number of reports increases because kids are learning that they can use the program and have their identity protected.”
   HB18-1434 also requires Safe2Tell to submit an annual report to the Colorado General Assembly that includes the following:
  • the outcomes and actions taken based on reports made to Safe2Tell
  • the number of reports broken down into categories
  • the total number of misuse reports, including the number of times the reporting party used the program’s reporting system to make a threat against or harm another person
  • the number of reports involving a single incident; the number of times the reporting party was in crisis and made the report to get help, including the time it took to identify the person and respond to the report
  • the efficacy of the program’s dispatch center
  • recommended improvements to the program based on the data available

   Coffman said the money will help keep the conversation about Safe2Tell going. “It is positive when we can talk about prevention and early intervention for kids because it really creates a model that educates kids to take care of not only themselves but their school and community,” she said. “I have to think that carries over to adulthood, creating good adults and citizens.”
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