School threat reports used to frequently happen because students or staff saw messages left on bathroom walls or mirrors. Recently, more of them have been reported on social media, forcing administrators and police to monitor more places.
Police were called to the school at 821 N. Limestone St. on Friday after school administrators learned of a possible threatening Facebook status posted by a student, according to a police report.
Police spoke to Cliff Park’s Director Jeff Waechter when they arrived, according to the police report.
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“Mr. Waechter stated (a student) posted to Facebook ‘If you go to Cliff Park run home (student’s nickname) trynna blow up the school,’” the report said. “Mr. Waechter stated this caused alarm in the school with students and staff. Additionally, at least two students did not come to school on this date because of the post, according to Mr. Waechter.”
Police were able to identify both the student who posted the status and the student who is referred to in the status, according to the police report.
The student who allegedly posted the status said the post was referencing smoking of marijuana at the school, according to the report.
“(The student) stated the post was a misunderstanding and that he was trying to tell students they should run because (the other student) was smoking marijuana, and it was going to smell,” the report said.
The student who allegedly posted the Facebook message was arrested and charged with inducing panic, the report said.
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School threats are serious matters that are investigated thoroughly, Springfield Police Chief Lee Graf said.
“The amount of fear and concern they can cause is huge,” Graf said of threats. “I would tell any young person they need to stop and consider what can happen and frankly not do it. This will interrupt their life and we will catch them.”
The alleged school threat is the latest in a string of social media posts that have prompted investigations by local law enforcement.
Local law enforcement began investigating many threats after the Parkland, Fla. high school shooting where 16 students and one staff member were killed. One local threat, referencing “SHS,” threat that sparked concern throughout the country.
Waechter said the school encourages students to be very careful with social media.
“Oftentimes, students do not realize the permanence and importance of their profile, posts, statuses and comments online,” he said. “Parents should have regular conversations with them about how to use it responsibly and model appropriate usage.”
The Clark County Sheriff Office works to educate kids about the seriousness of threats, Clark County Sheriff Deputy Scott Cultice and Deputy Mark Lane said. The two work as school resource officers at schools throughout the county.
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“If there’s a threat made we are going to investigate it from start to finish,” Cultice said.
Law enforcement works hard to make sure students are safe at school, Lane said.
“We take all of them serious,” he said. “We’ve had good success here in the past recently with the threats that have occurred here in the last month.”