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Poway ALERT tip line is open for residents to report safety concerns

(U-T Community Press)

Mayor Steve Vaus made recommendation at City Council meeting in wake of mass casualties

A new citywide tip line residents can call to report safety concerns started up in Poway on Wednesday morning.

Mayor Steve Vaus presented the idea for Poway ALERT (855-56-ALERT) at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Council members didn’t have to approve the idea but gave it their consensus.

The line will be accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week for residents to call if they are concerned that someone they know may be planning an act of violence or may be a danger to themselves or others.

Vaus said he was inspired after reading studies showing that in virtually every mass casualty incident the perpetrator displayed behavioral warning signs prior to their attacks that were noted by family, friends and others, but went unreported.

The tip line can be a safety net not only for the community but also for someone who might be spiraling out of control, he said.

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“If law enforcement had been alerted, lives could have possibly been saved,” Vaus said. “It is not enough just to remind people, ‘see something, say something.’ Poway ALERT gives them that place to say something — and to do so anonymously if needed — because if warning signs go unreported, tragedy may follow.”

Vaus said the tip line could be a “life saver.”

“The attack on Chabad of Poway reminded us all terror and tragedy can strike anywhere, any time. People still talk to me about that. Public safety is our city’s highest priority and our residents have always been willing partners in that pursuit,” Vaus said.

Poway ALERT does not replace 911, which should still be used in the event of an emergency, Vaus said. Messages to the tip line will be immediately forwarded to the Sheriff’s Department and addressed as appropriate.

Poway ALERT is modeled after a successful Poway Unified School District tip line the city started in 2018 to allow students, parents and community members to make reports related to school safety.

The line, which opened at 7 a.m. Wednesday, will be used during a trial period through the end of the year, with an evaluation by the city and Sheriff’s Department to determine if it will be continued. The cost through the trial period is estimated at $190.

Council members supported the mayor’s plan, saying it will help law enforcement agencies act proactively and not reactively to potential threats.

“I think this is great. It’s a terrific idea,” said Councilmember Barry Leonard.


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