A coalition of state agencies says a toll-free hotline used to warn law enforcement agencies about dangers at Mississippi schools has had a successful first year.

That’s why they, along with Governor Ronnie Musgrove, are hoping it will have an even more successful second year.

“The best way to deal with the matter is handling it before it happens,” Musgrove said Aug. 21. “The ‘Connections’ hotline is a great way to stop violence before it ever happens.”

The toll-free hotline is a joint venture between the state Department of Education, the Division of Public Safety, and the Attorney General’s Office to give students, their parents, and school staffers a fast, free, and anonymous way to report possible misdeeds before they happen.

Richard Thompson, state superintendent of education, said police have been able to make five felony arrests, stop a gang fight before it happened, and seize four weapons from students who brought them to school because of phone calls placed to the hotline.

Last year, the hotline received 60 anonymous tips.

“The fact that citizens can call anonymously is a factor that has contributed to this success,” said Public Safety Commissioner David Huggins. “I’m a strong believer that this program will make kids safer.”

The hotline is available 24 hours a day. Thompson said callers don’t have to give their identity or where they’re calling from.

In some cases, callers can receive a reward of $1,000 if their complaint leads to a resolution.

Sandra Shelson, a special assistant attorney general, said another outreach of the program is a cooperative training effort to teach nearly 500 school officials across the state to search for and, if need be, seize illegal weapons and materials in the schools.

The number for the ‘Connections’ hotline is 1-888-827-4637.