School threats ticking up post-Parkland shooting: How law enforcement determines credibility

Published: Feb. 22, 2018 at 1:38 PM MST
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In the wake of another school shooting, threats at campuses nationwide have gone up.

Safe2Tell told 11 News they've had 154 tips into them about attacks at school -- just in the past week.

"Obviously, there's been much more vigilance on what to report, what to look for," said Susan Pyne, the Safe2Tell Colorado executive director with the Colorado Attorney General's Office.

Pyne says it doesn't matter to them if the threat seems minor or unlikely to be true.

"We want them to report it. They don't have to decide it's real. Timely reporting is critical, but also, when that information goes to the school teams or law enforcement, they really know how to deem whether this is a credible threat or not."

Pyne believes resources such as Safe2Tell can play a critical role in preventing future Columbines and Stoneman Douglases.

"There are no jurisdictional boundaries with reports. We have prevented tragedies in other states and other countries that have come through Safe2Tell, even in this last week.”

How it works when you submit a tip: the report goes directly to school officials and law enforcement at the local level.

"That's where you determine: Is this credible, can we corroborate this information, and what are our next steps to either intervene or corroborate the information that’s being received?"

Former Pueblo County Sheriff Dan Corsentino shed some light on how law enforcement determines the credibility of a threat.

"There's action words versus words that are, specifically, perhaps neutral. There's a big difference between 'I am and I will kill you' versus 'I'm thinking about this.' You know, both are levels of danger, but when they are intent on saying that they will and that action is directed toward an individual person, a group of people, or perhaps a school in itself, that certainly is a red flag for everybody.

"The school has an obligation to try and identify, and this is where the balance becomes very difficult, the privacy issues of the student and the family certainly versus the protection of the school and the students."

The former sheriff says to parents and students: if you hear something, say something.