Tag: schools

Dubuque Police Monitor Social Media for Threats

 


The Dubuque police department monitors social media to track and respond to threats in the Dubuque area.

The police department will now focus some attention on social media in response to the alleged shooting threat directed toward Dubuque Senior High School on February 22. This allows the police department to not only respond quickly to confirmed threats but also to control any hearsay about discredited threats. The Dubuque community and its institutions benefit from the police department’s efforts to monitor social media.

For special circumstances, like the Dubuque Senior High School shooting threat, the police department will assign an officer to monitor social media for threats, according to Joe Messerich, a Lieutenant on the Dubuque police force. However, the police department does not staff specific police officers to oversee social media for threats. Instead, the police department has intelligence officers who gather vital information and relay it to the police officers.

Although, Lt. Messerich said all officers are expected to act as intelligence officers to find trends on social media – whether it involves underage house parties, gang-related posts, or possible threats – and relay the information to the department.

Another way officers monitor social media is during their own time when they are off-duty. If the officers peruse their social media accounts and come across something alarming, then they are expected to use their judgment to consider if it is a threat. “It doesn’t matter who you are,” said Lt. Messerich. “You’ll find information on something on social media.”

To report any threats, call the Dubuque police department at (563)589-4415 or Crime Stoppers at (800)747-0117.

Lt. Messerich said the now-discredited Dubuque Senior High School shooting threat was a rumor that “spread like wildfire” because social media users would share the story without any credible sources.

The rumor forced the police department to follow more leads and investigate more individuals, to which they dedicated one police officer to sift through social media for information on the possible shooting threat. This assigned officer would then contact people to see if the threats circulated were credible.

The Walk Out on March 14 was another circumstance that compelled the police department to monitor for threats. Those who participated in the Walk Out to protest gun violence left the safety of their school/building to march to Washington Park. The latter location is an open area which exposed individuals to possible threats; so, the police department had to take all precautions necessary to protect students and community members involved.

The police department monitored the “National Walk-Out Day – Dubuque” Facebook page and analyzed users’ comments to determine if they were possible threats. The police department needed a solid understanding of the threat-level during the Walk Out, and they turned their attention to Facebook to analyze the situation.

Lt. Messerich said, “We must know if 50 people from Loras or 2,000 people from the community are going to determine the level of safety.”

The police department monitoring social media for threats benefits the community and its institutions. Clarke University, a private Catholic university, benefits from the police department’s examination of social media.

Sister Joanne, Clarke University’s President, showed excitement and support for Dubuque monitoring social media. She said, “Lots of people and groups monitor social media. Clarke does. People are naïve if they think their texts and tweets and whatever are not being monitored. Given the pervasiveness of social media and the increased incidents of violence, I think the monitoring of social media by law enforcement is increasingly necessary.”

Sr. Joanne continued, “Such surveillance could provide our campus community with an advanced warning about a potential threat of violence or alert us to any abusive behavior being perpetrated by or directed at a member of our campus community.”

Laura Naber is a Clarke University student directly affected by the Dubuque Senior High School shooting threat.

Laura said, “As a student teacher at Dubuque Senior High School this year, I was affected by the supposed shooter threat in late February when classes were canceled for an entire day. While the administration and police handled the threat with the utmost concern and professionalism, the incident caused me to reflect on my future career in education and the influence of social media in the classroom and society.”

Laura continued, “While social media can be a great tool for communication, it has also become a negative pool where people post ignorant comments and bully others through an LED screen. Because this is becoming more and more of an issue, I think it is

important for police officers to monitor social media posts for potential violence and threats. If there are serious issues and concerns circulating the internet, law enforcement should be made aware so that immediate action and protection can be taken to avoid any detriment to innocent people.”

Caitlyn Ambrosy is a life-long Dubuque resident who attends Clarke University. She said, “In a society where social media is an ever-growing presence to which many believe there is a sense of anonymity and lack of consequences, a law enforcement presence is necessary. In the instance of the threat towards Senior High School, having a police presence on social media allowed for a quick, tactical, and thorough response to investigate the threat and protect the students.”

 

By Kyle Majerus

Taking Our Schools Back One Step at a Time

Are our schools safe anymore?

Not only grade schools, but also colleges and universities are at risk every day for violence. We have to find a solution. The House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday to help find and implement new ways to keep children and teachers safe at school. This act is called STOP School Violence Act of 2018 and will authorize $500 million over 10 years for grants to improve training and coordination between schools and local law enforcement. It will also help identify signs of potential violence before they occur.

A modern history of mass school shootings is a website that details some of the most recent shootings that have taken place in our schools. It is a scary fact that we have to worry about the public’s safety in institutions such as schools. Jenna Merrick, an 11th grader at Maquoketa schools says, “I feel safe at school depending on who I see.” She also stated, “Maquoketa Schools have phones to call up to the office and a camera to identify people entering the school.”

Fisher Bisinger, a senior at Midland Community Schools, stated, “I feel safe at school, but I do carry guns with me to protect our livestock and myself.” He also stated, “The school doors are locked at 8:00 am and visitors have to go through the office to enter the school.” He continued, saying, “We have a code that is put out over the intercom and if we hear it we are to leave school and go to the Calkin’s Barn to meet back up.” He wasn’t too sure about this plan, especially if there was more than one assailant.

This was a sample of how some area high schoolers felt about the safety of our schools.

Next, I wanted to hear from a Clarke student and see how she felt about safety on campus. Cassidy Derus stated, “I feel safer at Clarke than I did at the last school that I attended in Chicago, where there was no security.” She also stated “There was a person shot in the alley behind my apartment.” When asked what would help with download.jpgsecurity at Clarke she mentioned security cameras and locks for the interior of the classroom doors.

What is the solution for this violence to end? Gun control? Good luck fighting the NRA on that issue. I think we are heading in the right direction with the STOP School Violence Act of 2018 and it will have to be a multi-faceted approach to be successful. Education and implementation of safety measures will be the key to safer schools for everyone. It’s not all about the guns! We have to take a look at the people that have the guns. Parents, the government, and teachers have to know the signs to look for and alert the proper authorities if they suspect a potential problem.

By: Ron Driscoll

 

Sources:

http://www.indexjournal.com/news/movingbeyond/a-modern-history-of-mass-school-shootings/article_fe37dec8-2f52-5e55-b148-e5574da63f0b.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/politics/wp/2018/02/14/eighteen-years-of-gun-violence-in-u-s-schools-mapped/?utm_term=.c2b976908d61

http://abcnews.go.com/US/students-country-world-part-national-school-walkout-today/story?id=53712013