Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

December 8, 2012

Call with tips

Coalition spreads the word about availability of phone line

 Use of a Frostburg tip line to report suspicious or criminal activity and noise complaints has been slow to take hold, but a community coalition is aiming to change that.

The Frostburg Community Coalition is stepping up efforts to make the public aware of the 301-687-STOP tip line. The tip line gives residents and students a to way anonymously report disturbances and criminal activity. Lt. John Ralston of the Frostburg State University Police said citizens often see such activity but sometimes are afraid to report it for fear of retaliation.

Upon calling the tip line, the caller will listen to a recorded message for instructions and be directed to leave a message containing the information he wishes to share. Exactly five minutes after a message is recorded, it is automatically sent to Frostburg State University Central Communications to be routed immediately to the appropriate agency. The messages are completely anonymous, without numbers or names connected to them.

The coalition has been promoting the number on the FSU campus and now wants the community at large to be aware of its availability. The coalition is also encouraging students and parents from Mountain Ridge High School and Mount Savage and Westmar middle schools to use the tip line as well. Callers are still welcome to contact University Police, Frostburg City Police or other offices directly. In case of an emergency, callers should dial 911.

The Frostburg Community Coalition’s activities are funded by the Maryland Strategic Prevention Framework Grant awarded through the Allegany County Health Department. The coalition is working on prevention strategies in four areas — social availability of alcohol in nonretail settings; retail availability, especially in terms of alcohol sales to those under 21; enforcement and adjudication for those who violate alcoholic beverage laws; and social and community norms campaign to address attitudes toward high-risk drinking.

The tip line is just one tool being used in Frostburg to deal with loud parties and rowdy behavior. Although it has had a limited impact so far, it has the potential to make a big difference.

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