SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — If you see something, say something.
That’s the philosophy the state is taking by expanding the Safe2Help Hotline (844-472-3345) to report incidents in school and get students the help they need. The hotline launched in October, and several school districts have started using it, including Springfield.
“We’ve got a variety of tools that we use,” said Micah Miller, School Board Vice President. “This was just another one.”
Students can use the hotline to report rumors of suspicious or criminal activity or seek help for mental issues such as depression. It’s all anonymous.
Springfield schools have been using the hotline for most of this year. Miller said it was an easy decision to use it.
“I think it just bolsters and reinforces our response,” Miller said. “And the weapons detection system, that’s just another tool that we could use at the time. And we’re never going to get complacent and just say we have enough security. There’s always going to be something else in the future.”
A new law builds off the existing Safe2Help Hotline districts like Springfield have been using. State Senator Elgie Sims (D-Chicago) is the bill’s sponsor.
“We cannot wait for another tragic event to happen in our schools,” Sims said in a statement. “This is a key step in the intervention process that will not only protect our students from planned attacks but will also help improve police-community relations.”
The hotline does get some results according to Miller. Springfield has had several incidents reported to the hotline, and he hopes that with the wider scope, it will become more effective.
“Bringing our partners with Illinois State Police, with DHS, with ISBE, with DCFS, it just helps to legitimize and help to really reinforce and bolster this tool,” Miller said. “I hope to see not only District 186 continue to use it, but for this to flourish across Illinois.”
The number of state agencies involved with this hotline will also increase. The Department of Human Services and DCFS will also work on the hotline and the Illinois State Police will lead the project.