State Police respond to threats made at schools across Rhode Island
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — The Rhode Island State Police issued a statement following multiple threats made at local schools.
State Police said they received multiple calls Monday morning regarding prank phone calls alleging that a school shooting had occurred.
Lt. Robert Creamer said the calls came from the same number and the suspect delivered the same message to at least 14 different municipalities.
Police call this kind of hoax “swatting” and say it is meant to create a large-scale police response.
The department said they were able to identify the situation as a hoax very quickly.
Authorities confirmed all affected schools were deemed safe and students were cleared for return.
ABC6 spoke with a security and law enforcement analyst about these hoax calls and he said these situations should not be underestimated.
“We’ve got someone that is leveraging technology, they’re masking themselves behind technology,” said Todd McGhee. “The occurrence of this tends to be in the form of multiple calls from multiple school systems, that’s a trend we saw here in Mass., and it’s likely the same perpetrator in the state of Rhode Island.”
McGhee said in the last six months, situations like this have become more popular across the nation, that’s why he said it’s so important for schools to follow protocols as if there was an active shooter on campus.
“Now the response is not to wait for SWAT, not to set up in teams, but for the first uniformed officer on campus to go in and stop and mitigate the threat.”
All of the high schools that received a call followed protocols until the schools were deemed safe.
“In order to minimize chaos, communication is essential, the quicker the school can send out communication, the better it will be, because again it’s emotional, parents want their kids to be safe so we have to rely on immediate communication,” explained McGhee.
The Barrington superintendent said in a statement that throughout the last year, staff has been updated on school safety procedures, so they felt adequately felt prepared for this incident.