How schools are dealing with threats

Posted at 7:28 AM, Dec 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-16 07:28:05-05

Monday's threats against schools in Los Angeles and New York City are just the latest in what's becoming a trend nationally and in Mid-Michigan. Local schools are dealing with more threats lately.

The majority of those threats turned out to be hoaxes, but schools and police are not taking them any less seriously.

Just two weeks ago Jennifer Taylor kept her two children home when a fake bomb threat was made against Holt High School. Even though her kids are in elementary school, she says it's a chance she wasn't willing to take.

"You don't know if you can believe it or not, and you would just rather have your kids home safe with you," Taylor said.

Schools are also being cautious, with attacks like Sandy Hook and Columbine leaving them rethinking their policies.

"I think we're beyond the point of someone saying 'oh that can't happen here.' I think everyone understands it could happen here," said Chris Wigent, Executive Director of the Michigan Association of School Administrators.

Wigent says schools are planning for that chance, making sure everything is being done to keep students safe.

"There are requirements to have lockdown drills and do certain things as well, and schools utilize all of those to make sure that they're ready and prepared if something were to happen," he added.

Part of that involves working with local police who are the first ones called when a threat is made.

"The fact that people are taking automatic weapons and bombs into schools, those kinds of things, I think it's what's changed the ball game and it's happening with more frequency," said Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth.

Wriggelsworth says that's why his office investigates each threat as if it were real.

"If somebody puts the message out that they're going to bomb building "X" or shoot building "Y" you've have to take that threat seriously," Wriggelsworth added.

One thing helping in that response is school resource officers, where some local schools have police or sheriff's deputies who work inside their buildings everyday. Wriggelsworth says having them in the school has actually helped prevent some threats.

It's not just that face-to-face contact that's helping investigations. Police say students are talking about the threats or posting pictures of them on apps like Snapchat, and that's helping them track down the people involved.

Other schools across the state are also dealing with more threats, so the state Board of Education worked with state police to create an "Emergency Operations Template." It was sent to every school in the state.