COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) – A new trend of baseless school shootings has emerged in the past week. These calls warrant a police response and investigation by local and state authorities.
The trend is called “swatting”. It’s an issue Colorado saw in some schools across the state as of Monday. These fake emergency calls are investigated by both local authorities and the FBI. 11 News confirmed that Vista Ridge High School in Colorado Springs received one of those calls.
The National Association of School Resource Officers (NASRO) said this trend is widespread across the country and provided a list of states that have seen these calls in the past week alone.
Kristin Krause, a mom in Colorado Springs, said these calls, real or not, have real repercussions.
“It keeps everyone nervous all the time,” she said. “How are you supposed to trust that your child is going to school and is safe?”
Mo Canady, NASRO’s chief executive, tells 11 News that this fear extends beyond parents; It can also affect the mental health of children.
“Whether the violence is real or perceived, I have no question that it will have a significant impact on the mental health of students,” he said.
That’s why he said it’s important for parents and school staff to be aware of this issue and take every call seriously.
“This is where adults — a term I like to use — really need to keep their heads on one axis in the school environment,” Canady said. “Every student needs at least one trusted adult in the school environment.”
He also encourages students to use resources such as school counselors. His philosophy of taking every call seriously is echoed by Colorado Springs parenting and preschool teacher Tabitha Watkins.
“Don’t take it lightly,” she said. “Always follow through and, I mean, even if it’s a joke, just be safe. Better to be safe than sorry.”
This is precisely the philosophy of law. Law enforcement agencies are trained to respond with full force to a call for an active shooting. This is one of great-grandfather Jim Powers’ primary concerns.
“It’s awful, it’s a shame, it takes the police away from other, more important calls,” he said.
To him, people seem to use hitting as a “vengeance tool or as a nuisance tool,” but he realizes there’s a greater threat.
This is supported by Canada. He likens the beating to a fake bomb threat. The difference, he says, is that with a bombshell call, the threat can be properly verified and ruled false before it becomes a real problem. With an active gunman’s call, authorities will use all available resources to keep people safe.
“It increases the likelihood of some kind of accident happening along the way,” he said.
The Colorado Springs Police Department told 11 News that a swatting call can at least result in a false report of an emergency charge. This is a fourth-class felony, punishable by a fine of up to $500,000 and up to six years in prison.
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