School threats a serious matter to school law enforcement

District may implement ALICE active shooter training in near future

Lauren Mitchell

More stories from Lauren Mitchell


District administration and law enforcement have several processes they go through when they are notified of threats against schools.

While school resource officer Chad Gay believes there have been graver threats to the high school in the past, more recent threats have been treated just as seriously.

“The last time we had a threat, somebody said they were in the bathroom and heard a kid say ‘don’t come to school tomorrow.’ That was probably the most recent one. That stinks when you have to try to remember what the most recent one was,” Gay said.

Principal Lisa Moore said school resource officers are some of the first people notified when a threat is made, which often results in activating more police officers to patrol the school. She said notifying parents of threats through calls and texts from the school district is key so as not to cause alarm, but to communicate the importance of each situation.

“We don’t want parents to be panicked, by any means. We want parents to believe school is safe and most of the time I think parents do believe school is safe. And obviously, after we have a threat, the school couldn’t be any safer when we have four or five police officers here,” Moore said.

Gay said the credibility of a threat is evaluated through extensive investigation, including talking to every student who has any level of involvement, parents and adults in the building. However, the nature of some threats makes it more difficult to gather reliable information.

“Really, on (the most recent) one, there wasn’t anything to go on. It was really just words. He didn’t see the person, there were no eyewitnesses or suspect description or anything like that. So, that was a tough one because we had nothing,” Gay said. “We watched video, and we didn’t see who we thought we were gonna see in the video or the person we thought could have been the person. I mean, really, that is how we respond to that.”

Recently, some of the Newton Police Department officers attended ALICE training, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. This method provides a new approach for civilian response to an active shooter.

“It is kind of like the Homeland Security stuff of run, hide, fight. You fight as a last resort. ALICE is kind of the same deal. I think we’re going to eventually start getting that into the schools. That is training you guys how to react to a bad situation,” Gay said.

Gay believes the school district would benefit from having the ALICE training procedures in place, should a serious threat be carried through.

“The sooner the better for me. It is not easy, with a district this size and this many schools to just, boom, implement it. Teachers would get training and I am hoping they would bring it into the classrooms and talk to you guys about how we’re going to prepare for if something bad happened,” Gay said.

Gay and the administration team urge any student who witnesses any threatening behavior from another student to contact them immediately.

“Come find me, come find the administrators. Tell an adult. Let us know, because they may not take it seriously but it may be. I don’t care how they take it, tell us. We’ll be the ones to determine how serious it is by investigating it,” Gay said.