It’s not exactly the cost that’s off-putting — $3.5 million to get it up and running — because, if it saves one child from harm, then that cost is worth it.
What’s concerning is that the statewide school violence hotline would replace a failed statewide school violence hotline that hasn’t succeeded in the nine years since its creation. In fact, the director of the Michigan State Police acknowledged that the old hotline didn’t work as envisioned and doesn’t get, well, any calls.
But what if this new hotline does get traction?
This newest hotline would be staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by state police personnel, who would channel reports of threats to local authorities or appropriate school officials. The details of how it would exactly work have yet to be ironed out.
How immediately potentially crucial information would reach the right people in the threatened communities or schools also remains unclear.
What happens if a student spots another student with a gun, calls the state hotline instead of alerting a teacher or school administrator, but then the tip isn’t passed along quickly enough?
State Attorney General Bill Schuette seems to think that, because the hotline will be anonymous, it will get the tips needed to prevent school violence. That’s a noble sentiment, but why wouldn’t someone simply call the local Silent Observer hotline if their goal is to fly under the radar with their information? That’s anonymous.
And, if it were a real emergency, you can bet kids would be calling 911, talking to one another, their parents, their teachers or Tweeting about it. They’d probably even have video or cellphone pictures of the alleged threat.
The proposed hotline seems to be borne of good intentions, but how successful will it actually be? Is it wise to invest $3.5 million in yet another hotline given a track record of failure? And how quickly and efficiently would the proper authorities be alerted to immediate threats?
These are all questions that should be answered long before this legislation is fast-tracked and the hotline implemented.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.