School district officials talk about protocol when dealing with threats

Jefferson City and Columbia school officials say every threat is taken seriously and investigated

COLUMBIA, Mo. - Officials with Columbia Public Schools and Jefferson City Public Schools tell ABC 17 News threats don't happen on a regular basis, but they do happen. District leaders said the most common type of threat they get is a written letter. They said most of the time it's easy to track down who wrote it and why. But leaders claim every threat, no matter what it is or how it's made, is taken seriously and investigated.

School district leaders said no threat is the same. They said therefore they can't develop one way to handle them. But they do have protocol in place to quickly act and figure out if it is a legitimate threat or not.

"Whether it's a written note, whether it's a phone call whatever it might be our principals are going to begin their investigation and pretty quickly after that they'll be talking with the school resource officer and then by extension the Jeff City Police Department," Jefferson City Public Schools spokesman David Luther said.

Luther said they put a lot of trust in what law enforcement thinks should happen. He believes depending on what cops say, they're usually put on high alert or go into lock down.

It's basically the same situation in Columbia. The district even has retired police detectives to help officials respond quicker.

"There's not one way you do it, that's why we're so fortunate that we have experts employed that investigate and give us wise counsel on how we need to respond," Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Chris Belcher said.

Both school districts said they have to be more cautious now than they were decades ago.

Luther said they're also looking to know more about their students.

"We need to build a relationship with these students, we need to know our students better because if there's something going on in their world and we're familiar with it, we can probably help them solve that problem," Luther said.

Luther said they're in the middle of looking at security throughout the district. That includes security measures in each building as well as protocol for things like threats.

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