Cañon City School District Superintendent: Swift response to prank a tremendous testament to partnership with law enforcement

1 month ago Canon City Daily Record

On Wednesday, more than a dozen Colorado schools, including Cañon City High School were hit with a “swatting” prank.

In instances of swatting, an anonymous individual makes a fictitious call to law enforcement claiming an emergency and provides a real location, hoping to spur a major police response.

In our case, a threatening call was received by Fremont County Dispatch at approximately 8:45 a.m.  The call came from a person who claimed to be in possession of a rifle and multiple pipe bombs, further indicating that they were about to enter the high school.

Based on the nature of the threat, law enforcement initiated their LOCKDOWN protocol, which instructs students and staff to seek safety behind a locked door, turn off lights, and hide out of sight.

In situations where an individual cannot get behind a locked door, they are trained to self-evacuate. It is also important to note that in LOCKDOWN situations, students and staff remain in LOCKDOWN until law enforcement has completed their protocol of sweeping the building and ensuring safety for all.

In our event, once it was determined that there was no threat and the building was deemed safe, law enforcement and designated school staff cleared each room, accounting for all the students throughout the process. Once rooms were cleared, the district felt that keeping the school open was the right thing to do, being that many students do not have transportation or possibly even a place to go in the middle of the day.

We do want parents to know, however, that after an emergency event like Wednesday, parents are always welcome to excuse their students from school for the remainder of the day. This gives the students options if they feel most comfortable leaving for the day.

In regards to communication throughout an event such as Wednesday, we encourage parents to prioritize their attention to the communication provided by both the school district and law enforcement. The school district’s communication is provided to inform parents of where we are in the process of the LOCKDOWN  (or other protocol), let them know their students are safe, and to keep them informed of the next steps once the event is over. We do not provide information regarding the specific threat; we leave that to our law enforcement partners as they deem appropriate.

While we understand concerns existed for parents and families of students regarding the protocol we initiated, the response was appropriate and necessary given the information that was evolving.   We will forever and always err on the side of immense caution and safety.

Threats and hoaxes create many “costs,” the most important of which is the emotional toll that this type of trauma brings with it.  To that end, this type of event is traumatic for all involved, including students, staff, and parents.  Even though we were all safe, the process can feel scary, especially when we don’t know if the threat is real.  This is totally natural and to be expected. We all react differently to these situations – there is no wrong or right.  To that end, we have extended internal counseling support to any individuals in need of it.

Wednesday’s statewide events were traumatic and emotionally exhausting for all involved.  Certainly, it’s regrettable that a community has to experience a hoax such as this.  At the same time, however, the swift response and exceptional execution of our safety protocols were also a tremendous testament to our committed partnership with local law enforcement.

Our goal is that every kid goes home every day … safely.

Adam Hartman is the Superintendent of Schools for the Cañon City School District.

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