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Police encourage public to report threatening social media posts

Posted at 5:12 PM, Feb 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-23 18:12:43-05

KANSAS CITY - If you're worried about a threatening post you see on social media, local police want to know. 

Officers are investigating social media threats made in two area school districts.

In the Kansas City, Kansas School District, officials said someone made a threat about shooting up a school, mentioning two different high schools. Another threat made Friday morning targeted Park Hill High School. Police there have talked to the student behind the threat, and officers did step up enforcement during the school day. 

Those threats are just two of many that have been reported at schools across the country after the school shooting in Florida last week. 

"Anything you think that should be followed up, that you're worried about, we should know about," said Sgt. Gary Mason with the Overland Park Police Department. 

Local police are asking that you do your due diligence in this era of technology. 

"The great thing for us is we can act on it right away," said Mason. 

The Overland Park Police Department is just one having to monitor all social media platforms at all times. With help from the public, police have been tagged in a number of threatening posts online. 

"This type of information, where people are looking for things and sending it to us, happens especially after some type of event like what happened in Florida," said Mason. 

According to Miami-Dade Schools, just 24 hours after the tragedy, violent threats skyrocketed from about once a week to more than 50 threats in one day. In Overland Park, Mason said they've also seen an increase in threats. 

"Sometimes it ends up being nothing, but we certainly want to look into it and make sure that we've vetted as properly as we can," said Mason. 

Once police have ruled out any crime has been committed, Mason said the situation is out of their hands. Doctors at Truman Medical Center said that is where a threat assessment evaluation comes into play, stating it's not always about the threat that's been made, but whether or not the person poses an actual risk. 

"Not all those are dangerous and most of the time when we do the threat assessment, people don't pose a real danger. They may have just been venting or reacting or something like that, but you don't know that until you go through the process," said Dr. Shawn McDaniel, Psychology Training Director at Truman Medical Center. 

That's why officials continue to urge the motto, if you see something, say something. 

"Nobody wants to think that their loved one or their kid would do something like this, but some of them do, luckily not the majority of people," said McDaniel. 

While all threats typically end up in the hands of local law enforcement, police say it is just as important to notify school officials directly.