Threats of violent acts prompted investigations at multiple area school districts throughout the week.
While police and other law enforcement officers investigated each of these threats, an area criminal justice expert said research shows attention to national tragedies like the Michigan school shooting can prompt others to make similar threats.
Over the last week, at least seven area school districts reported receiving threats that prompted law enforcement investigations, including Centerville, Fairborn, Kettering, and others. Some of those threats coming in the wake of the Nov. 30 mass shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan have been posted and shared widely on social media.
“I don’t know that it’s happening more as much as I think everyone is very sensitive to that information after an incident like we had in Michigan,” Centerville Police Officer John Davis told News Center 7′s John Bedell Friday.
“So I think people are searching for it more, they’re paying more attention to it. And they’re more apt to report things to us,” Davis said.
Centerville police handled two threat investigations last week, including one at Centerville High School. Fairborn City Schools reported in a social media post Thursday that a possible threat was investigated and caused a shelter-in-place situation while it was investigated.
The Champaign County Sheriff’s Office was called to investigate threats possibly made by two juvenile students Monday night that prompted extra deputies at Triad High School Tuesday.
Dr. Art Jipson, a professor at the University of Dayton who teaches sociology and criminal justice said research shows threats of copycat crimes are common in the aftermath of tragedies.
“Even if there are individuals who engage in momentary thoughtless action because they thought it would be fun or exciting or cool, right, it would be something unique they could do and only talk to their friends about, right, that these waves do eventually lessen. Now of course, that’s of course no comfort to the families or teachers, school administrators or other members of the community who are impacted by that thoughtless action,” Jipson said.
Whether its a momentary lapse of judgement for a joke or legitimate warning, Davis said all officers take these violent threats seriously and promised punishment.
“If you’re going to post a threat or if you’re going to pass on a threat to create undue panic, we’re going to investigate it and anyone who’s responsible for it is going to be arrested,” Davis said.
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