With the new school year underway, the Colorado Springs Police Department (CSPD) would like to remind students to #ThinkBeforeYouPost.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Denver Division recently relaunched its #ThinkBeforeYouPost public awareness campaign, which is aimed at educating the public about the consequences of making threats online.
In the aftermath of tragic shootings which continue to plague our nation, law enforcement agencies around the country often see an increase in threats made to schools and other public buildings. Even jokingly making a reference to conducting a mass shooting is taken seriously and ties up valuable law enforcement resources that could be diverted during an actual threat. These threats can also result in lockdowns and traumatic school security events for students – and can waste taxpayer money.
Every year, the CSPD works closely with school districts throughout the city to ensure the safety of our students. The department takes every single threat seriously and works hard to quickly identify its credibility.
According to the FBI’s press release, “When an investigation concludes there was a false or hoax threat made to a school, or another public place, a federal charge could be considered, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. If a federal charge is not warranted, state or local charges can be considered. Schools are also taking these matters seriously, and expulsions have resulted in many cases where a student made a threat, a hoax threat, or even jokingly referred to mass shootings. Making reference to threats in social media, where many people believe their posts are private, can destroy a young person’s future.”
CSPD Chief Vince Niski says, “This strong message to ‘think before you post’ from the FBI is an important one. Working together with the school districts, and the FBI, is critical to keeping our kids safe. Officers will always take every threat seriously to ensure the safety of our kids. Posting a threat online as a joke is not something to ever laugh about. It’s a serious crime that has the potential for serious, life-changing consequences.”
Sergeant Lisa Cintron, the CSPD’s School Resource Unit Supervisor adds, “It’s unfortunate we have to address any kind of school threat. Students and staff should feel safe in their learning environment. Despite our best efforts to educate everyone about the ramifications of making any kind of threat of harm to anyone on school grounds or event, they continue to come in. School threats are not harmless or funny – they cause disruption and fear. I implore anyone who has information about someone who has made a threat to contact law enforcement immediately.”
Public assistance is crucial to our efforts to curb these hoax threats. We ask the public to continue to contact law enforcement to report any potential threats or suspicious activity. If there is any reason to believe the safety of others is at risk, we ask that the public immediately reach out to the Colorado Springs Police Department at (719) 444-7000, or contact the FBI via tips.fbi.gov or over the phone (1-800-CALL-FBI). As always, members of the public can call the FBI Denver Division at (303) 629-7171 to report a tip.
Below are helpful tips from the FBI Denver:
- Don’t ever post or send any hoax threats ... period.
- If you are a target of an online threat, alert your local law enforcement immediately.
- If you see a threat of violence posted on social media, immediately contact local law enforcement or your local FBI office.
- Notify authorities, but don’t share or forward the threat until law enforcement has had a chance to investigate – this can spread misinformation and cause panic.
- If you are a parent or family member, know that some young people post these threats online as a cry for attention or as a way to get revenge or exert control. Talk to your child about the proper outlet for their stress or other emotions and explain the importance of responsible social media use and the consequences of posting hoax threats.