Authorities across nine counties in southern Iowa are hoping a new program will cut down on underage drinking. The “Text-a-Tip” program designates a special line for students or their parents to send a text message to law enforcement alerting them of a party where teenagers are consuming alcohol.
Lieutenant Ken Clary, with the Iowa State Patrol in Osceola, says callers gain some anonymity by texting instead of calling. “It’s one of those things you could be stigmatized for if people knew you were giving these types of tips out,” Clary said. “That’s why we want to make it as anonymous as possible. And it gives parents a chance to reach out as well. There are a lot of parents aware of these types of gatherings.”
Clary hopes young people will see this as an opportunity to prevent the injury or death of a fellow student, rather than “ratting out” a friend. “If you don’t give that information and the consequences end up that your friends or fellow students get in an accident, which would you rather do? Give out that information or withhold that information and have them get hurt? So, it’s not necessarily about the snitching,” Clary said.
He notes police have always encouraged tips on teen drinking parties, but Clary says many teenagers are more comfortable texting than phoning. School districts and law enforcement will share the cost of the program with additional funding from an Iowa Department of Human Rights grant.
The program covers Adair, Adams, Clarke, Decatur, Lucas, Ringgold, Taylor, Union and Wayne Counties. The text-only phone number is 641-799-2277.