HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania officials — hoping to prevent mass-shooting tragedies like those routinely surfacing at schools across the country — are proposing a new method for students, parents and school staff to anonymously report violent activities and potential threats.
Similar to “see something, say something,” the Safe2Say program would allow anyone to submit a tip by phone or online directly to the state attorney general’s office.
The office would coordinate with local — and if necessary, federal — law enforcement to investigate.
The idea is one of the dozens of new Pennsylvania bills aimed at increasing school safety and introduced in the aftermath of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting that left 17 dead in February.
“In the hours and the days and the weeks after any of these tragedies, information comes to light — things that were missed, signs that were shown, Facebook pages making various types of threats or pictures of weapons or explosives. All too often we ask ourselves, ‘Why was this missed?’ ” said state Sen. Scott Martin, R-Martic Township, at a press conference Tuesday at the Capitol.
Martin is a prime sponsor of the legislation to establish Safe2Say, which is modeled after a program in Colorado that received 9,163 reports in the 2016-17 school year.
The legislation was scheduled for a vote Tuesday in the state Senate but was rescheduled for early June, according to a Senate spokeswoman. Advocates hope it will be approved by both chambers and the governor by the end of June — setting it up for a potential launch by the end of the summer, Martin said.
He's hoping it will be publicized in orientation materials everywhere from elementary schools to college campuses.
The bill, as written now, would provide about $1 million for a 13-person staff in the attorney general’s office to field tips 24/7, said state Sen. Pat Browne, a Lehigh Valley Republican who is also a prime sponsor.
Attorney General Josh Shapiro said he supports the bill, which has bipartisan support.
“How many times have we said, ‘Boy, if only someone had lifted up their voice and shared this important information with us we could’ve done something about it?’ How many times have we heard people say, ‘If you see something, say something’ ?” Shapiro said.
With the dozens of other school safety bills circulating in Harrisburg, lawmakers are also considering plans to add armed security guards and metal detectors in schools, increase funding for safety measures, establish frequent mental health screenings and more.