For about $100 a month*, the Wichita public school district's Crime Stoppers in Schools program is making it easier for students to submit anonymous tips to keep schools safe.
Michelle Zahner, supervisor of Police-School Programs, presented the new Speak Up system Thursday afternoon at South High School.
The 24 Wichita middle and high schools that have Crime Stoppers are now equipped with the Speak Up system, which gives students, staff and parents the ability to send anonymous tips via text messages or by accessing a secure Web site.
"This is a lot more anonymous than using tip boxes or by talking to a police officer," said South High School senior, Kelly VanCleave, 17.
According to Zahner, cell phone and computer information is stripped by servers before the information is forwarded to school administrators.
"We know students have the important information they sometimes don't feel safe telling," Zahner said.
Along with the anonymity aspect, Zahner believes the new tool is one students will easily adapt to because it uses technology they are already familiar with.
"If there was something important I knew, I would definitely use the system," said South High school sophomore Wayne Adams, 16.
Jim Todd, president of Crime Stoppers for Wichita/Sedgwick County, thanked Target Stores for partnering with Crime Stoppers to fund the system.
"We are very happy to have this system and happy we can support it too," Todd said.
Students, staff and parents can text "SPEAKUP' plus their tip information to CRIMES (274637) or leave a tip online through a special link on their individual school's Web site, as well as the main district Web site.
"Our ultimate message is that we want important information shared for the safest environment possible," Zahner said.
*An earlier version of this story had an incorrect amount.