COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Safe2Tell has become the statewide hotline for reporting threats and safety concerns anonymously, and its founder, Susan Payne, is now using those skills at Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 as the first director of safety and security.
"We want to continue in an age-appropriate way teaching children to be safe, that includes online, in an emergency or crisis," she said.
Payne is a former Colorado Springs officer who has now taken her skills nationwide serving as an expert in school safety and violence prevention.
"I went to things like the Pennsylvania Amish shooting, West Nickel Mine shooting, to Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech," Payne said.
Besides working for District 12, Payne also serves as a special adviser for the U.S. Secret Service’s National Threat Assessment Center and a consultant with the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado in Boulder. Her resume doesn't just stop there, she’s also assisting the U.S. Secret Service with the latest study on school shootings.
"I was brought up to the state level as the special agent in charge at Homeland Security school safety," she said.
Payne's success with safety and security began with the Safe2Tell hotline. The anonymous tip line began as a nonprofit organization and later became an initiative of the Colorado Attorney General’s Office nearly five years ago.
"Safe2Tell is the best practice, considered the best practice nationwide. We have 15 states with a similar program and have that in place," she said.
After being a part of a nationwide effort to keep kids in school safe, and seeing the adversity students face today firsthand, she says her role is more important than ever.
Rebecca Royall, principal at Gold Camp Elementary, says she's already seeing a difference in procedures as simple as a fire drill.
"Susan has come in, just really at the ground level helped us streamline our drills. She comes and looks at how we do our evacuation drills and how we can streamline those if we had to do an outside evacuation," Royall said.
Payne says Cheyenne Mountain District 12 is the smallest of many districts in Colorado Springs that have a position focused on prevention and intervention.