CHALRESTON, WV (WOWK) – The West Virginia Department of Homeland Security is reminding West Virginians of the steps they can take to help report and prevent potential threats to schools in the Mountain State.
The WV DHS says in the wake of the tragic mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas on Tuesday, May 24 where a gunman opened fire in a classroom and killed 19 students and two teachers they want to make sure citizens know the steps to take in order to “see something, say something” to help stop these tragedies from happening in their communities.
The number for the helpline is 1-866-723-3982 (1-866-SAFE-WVA). The toll free helpline is open and answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you have information regarding a potential threat to the school or anything that could harm students, staff or property at schools in the state, the WV DHS is urging you to call the number and report the information. Callers can remain anonymous upon request.
The WV DHS also says concern citizens have the option to email their tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, what affects your school, affects you and your community.West Virginia Department of Education
“If you see something, you need to say something,” said DHS Secretary Jeff Sandy. “West Virginia has taken countless steps over the years to make our schools as safe as possible. We have established initiatives like the Safe Schools Program and the Safe Schools Helpline. Just six months ago, Governor Justice provided over $1 million so that we could add over 50 Prevention Resource Officers across the state.”
The West Virginia Department of Education says examples of information that can be reported can include violence, weapons, threats, thefts or property damage, drug or alcohol abuse, and sexual harrassment. When calling the helpline, the WVDE says to be sure you have the following information prepared:
- Explain what you are reporting – a complaint, problem, suggestion, etc.
- What time did the incident happen or when is the incident expected happen?
- At what school did/will this take place?
- Who is the alleged suspect?
- What, if any, school does the alleged suspect attend?
- A description of the incident in the order it took or is expected to take place?
- If you wish to be contacted, how can the WVDE and WV DHS get in touch with you? This is optional information and you do not have to provide your contact information if you do not want to.
“West Virginians should be very proud. But we can’t be complacent,” Sandy said. “Everyone – from the Department of Homeland Security to the general public – has an obligation to speak up if they sense trouble. You know if something doesn’t feel right. If you get information that you feel might pose a danger to our students and teachers at any of West Virginia’s schools, you need to contact the Safe Schools Helpline.”
The “see something, say something” motto has already prevented a tragedy in the Mountain State just this year.
On April 6, a Ripley High School student in Jackson County, West Virginia, saw a 15-year-old Ripley Middle School student, with a gun on the school bus. That high schooler was hailed a hero after he grabbed the magazine from the weapon and turned the 15-year-old in.
The 15-year-old and his 16-year-old brother were taken into custody after authorities learned the elder brother allegedly stole the gun from a neighbor, and the younger allegedly had one specific target that he planned to shoot.
The teen who spoke up was honored later that month for his brave actions.