The April 16 shooting rampage at Virginia Tech University, as well as a gun scare at Bonita High School in La Verne on Friday and similar incidents across the nation have people wondering what can be done to prevent school violence. Many officials say that there is already an effective program in place to safely and anonymously report troubling or even criminal behavior around schools and communities before a tragedy occurs. WeTip, a nonprofit group operating continuously since 1972, has operators standing by 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at its Rancho Cucamonga call center. Tips received by WeTip officers and passed on to law enforcement have helped solve more than 15,000 crimes in the past 30 years. The Covina-Valley Unified School District has been part of WeTip’s school safety program for 12 years, said Marsha Evers, the district’s supervisor for student welfare and attendance. “There are countless cases where WeTip has gotten information on a weapon or a threat, where a student was going to hurt another student,” Aguilar said. “You don’t hear about them in the news so much because we were able to intercede and get to the root of the problem in time.” WeTip, which serves thousands of schools in California alone, never asks for callers’ names, Aguilar said. Instead, they are given identification numbers with which they can call back and add to their original tips. If their tip leads to the solving of a crime, a $1,000 reward is offered. Tipsters are given a code name and can pick up their reward at the post office of their choice, using the assumed name. All tips are passed on to police and schools, Aguilar said. “We would rather err on the side of caution and talk to a principal or school resource officer,” she said. “We do not determine what is good or bad information; we send it to the authorities and let them deal with it.” Covina police Chief Kim Raney, whose department is a WeTip member along with its counterparts in Arcadia, Pico Rivera and Pomona, among others, says the service has proven invaluable. “Anything that comes through is evaluated, especially school safety issues,” said Raney, noting that WeTip information has led to the solving of violent and drug-related crimes in the area. “People on Web sites like MySpace and Facebook might see some disturbing postings, and we encourage them to relate that information to WeTip so that potential threats can be identified before an event occurs.” Covina Councilman Walt Allen III, who serves as vice president of the WeTip board, said membership is well-worth the cost, which is determined based on population. “We are constantly trying to raise money, because even entities that are not members get information,” Allen said. Allen added that the Virginia Tech massacre serves as a grim reminder of the importance of programs like WeTip. “It is an extremely tragic way to make people aware of the need for an anonymous tipline, which helps ferret out potentially dangerous threats to our communities, schools or individuals,” he said. “I hope this awful tragedy gets the word out that there is an 800 number to call to provide information to law enforcement that could probably prevent a tragedy.” To make an anonymous tip to WeTip, visit www.wetip.com or call (800) 782-7463. [email protected] (626) 962-8811, Ext. 2306160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “We hope that our students feel confident enough to come to our administrators if they feel there is a problem, but we are not naive and know that is not always the case,” Evers said. “So if they overheard something from another student and are afraid to come forward, we would want them to use WeTip.” Evers said WeTip fax and e-mail bulletins received by the school and the Covina Police Department have led to solving, and even prevention, of crimes around district schools. “They have mostly involved property damage, potential drug sales, that kind of thing,” said Evers, adding that WeTip membership is paid by the city and does not cost the district a dime. “Nothing in the realm or homicide or attempted homicides.” That is not to say that the program has not saved lives, said WeTip CEO Susan Aguilar. “Last June in Victorville some kids were going to go to a graduation with plans to kill some members of the school’s sports teams,” Aguilar said. It was one of three gun-related graduation incidents last June in New York, Pennsylvania and Southern California that WeTip helped prevent, she said.