Police look at Facebook to keep schools safe | News
DAWSON, GA- 13 years ago Friday, two students opened fire at Columbine High school and killed 13 people and themselves.
Schools and police across the country changed how they monitored students because of that day.
And social media is a whole new way of sometimes seeing inside students' minds.
Columbine is one of those words that triggers a memory of where you were and what you were doing when it happened. Now, social media can give potential threats a larger platform and Dawson police are noticing.
It is one of the most tragic events in recent history: Columbine. Blood and tears filled the scene 13 years ago. The two shooters gave signs they wanted to harm others. Now, authorities have to look at Facebook for potential threats.
"We go into procedure to investigate it," said Dawson Police Investigator Gene Shattles. "Maybe we talk to the parents and talk to that person if they are available. Get their mental status and what is going on, what their background is. If we validate it, we let the school know that we do have a threat and we need to take more precaution."
But, they are careful about what appears to be a threat. Sometimes, a student's status poses no threat at all.
"We've had some in the past where we go back and a child can even show you a song and it's just song lyrics they have typed on their facebook page," Shattles said. "That's how we show it's not a valid threat."
Dawson police are still asking kids to think before they post. And they are asking their parents to get involved in the social media too.
"Check your children's facebook page," Investigator Shattles said. "That is how we get most of them that come in. A parent is good enough to go behind their child and say 'hey what is my child putting on.' What are his friends doing? What are her friends doing? And they find stuff on there."
Keeping students safe is the highest priority for police when dealing with schools. They say their job has never been the same since Columbine.
"We also train on how to respond to a school shooting that we didn't in the past," said Shattles. "It kind of changed our world and how we respond to schools."
They say it is important to not forget these tragic moments so they don't get repeated.
Police did say that if they have enough evidence to validate a threat, they send it to the district attorney where charges could be filed.
Dawson police say thankfully, they rarely have validated threats that need further investigation.
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