She founded the Safe2Tell program though the Colorado Office of the Attorney General in 2004 as a anti-violence initiative that has since resulted in the prevention of an estimated 1,600 youth suicides, 30 planned school attacks and thousands of bullying interventions across the state.
“I have never known a person who is more compassionate about keeping kids safe than Susan Payne,” said Natasha Sansoni, a Safe2Tell data manager and lifelong friend of Payne. “This is seen through her countless hours of speaking engagements, including hundreds of student, school and law enforcement trainings given each year. She is a person that truly cares and has the charisma and heart to truly make a difference in this world.”
Payne began work on the program in the wake of the 1999 Columbine High School massacre. She has spent 25 years in law enforcement, 17 of those focusing on school safety at the Colorado Springs Police Department. Although she still serves a role in law enforcement, she dedicated herself to developing the program nearly a decade ago to help turn the tide of youth violence in the country.
“Seeing tragic things happen to children was difficult for me as a mother,” Payne said. “There was a point that I wanted to prevent these things from happening, rather than just respond to them … and that’s going to take all of us.”
[pullquote]It is no less courageous to speak up in a safe and anonymous way. [/pullquote]Since then, Payne has conducted thousands of training sessions, seminars, presentations and has attended the President’s White House Conference on School Violence Prevention to address circumstances surrounding events such as the 2013 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Payne remains a Terrorism Liaison Officer for Colorado and has served as a team leader for Hostage Crisis Negotiations, a member of the FBI’s Safe Street’s task force, and has assisted in training at the FBI Academy in Quantico. She is a graduate of the National School Safety Center and is certified as a Advanced Public Safety Officer.
“Each of us has a voice and we get to choose when to speak up,” Payne said. “It is no less courageous to speak up in a safe and anonymous way. We really want to empower that voice.”