Friday, August 31, 2001

Gift phones expand kids' access to cops

By Lori Hayes
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A school safety program that puts free cellular phones in the hands of school cops has expanded to nearly a dozen Greater Cincinnati communities.

        The Phone Call for Safety program gives students access to their school resource officers 24 hours a day, seven days a week via cell phones donated by Sprint PCS.

        “The students know at any given time they can call that number and have someone to talk to who is a friend. It's a comfort zone,” said Newport Police Sgt. Coy Cox, a resource officer at Newport Middle School who joined the program last fall.

        Sprint launched the program in summer 2000 in Erlanger and Independence in Kenton County, providing phones and cellular service to school officers so students could privately report such things as drug abuse, vandalism and bullying.

        Over the past year, Sprint has expanded its reach to six more Northern Kentucky cities: Crescent Springs, Florence, Fort Thomas, Fort Mitchell, Ludlow and Newport.

        This fall, Edgewood and two Ohio communities, Miamisburg near Dayton and Price Hill are joining the program.

        In September, Sprint is adding e-mail accounts to the phones to allow students to send messages directly to the officers, giving students even more privacy for reporting sensitive issues.


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