After multiple school-related threats in recent weeks, police and educators are taking new steps to protect students.
In Hamilton, two students were recently charged with inducing panic at the high school, with one event resulting in a district-wide lockdown. A Garfield Middle School student is also facing misdemeanor assault charges after allegedly using a pellet gun to shoot at other students.
On Friday, Hamilton police officers recorded two public service announcements that will be shown to students.
One PSA encourages students to tell an adult if they hear about a potential threat. The message in that video is clear: “if you see or hear something that affects your safety, or the safety of your school, say something.”
Hamilton Police Sgt. Ed Buns said after the rash of recent threats against schools were made in recent weeks, the partnership between the police and school district to make the PSA video is a good one.
“Things have changed so much with the advent of social media, and we have to make sure we are sending a clear message to all of these students about what can happen if you break the law or what to do if you see that someone is breaking the rules,” he said.
The second PSA emphasizes the legal consequences of making threats.
Hamilton police Capt. Marc McManus was one of the driving forces behind the creation of the PSA videos. He said that social media can be good in terms of helping get out information when it happens, but the idea is to prevent these threats from occurring in the first place.
“Everything in terms of how police and the schools deal with threats has changed since the Columbine shooting and the other shooting that have happened across the country,” he said.
McManus noted that all threats are taken very seriously and police respond in full force to ensure the safety of the students and employees at the school.
The video talking about possible legal consequences for threats will be shown to high school and freshman school students and possibly junior high students. The other video will be shown to all students.
Joni Copas, director of communications for the school district, said the recent events have also served as a way to make sure the school district’s protocols during emergencies and the videos are a great tool to add to educating everybody on how to handle threats and similar situations.