“We Take Every Threat Very Seriously”: LPD Chief Discusses Process for Investigating Threats
The Laramie Police Department has dealt with two recent incidents involving threats against schools in Laramie. The most recent investigation into a threat involved a Laramie Middle School Student posting a threat via social media on Sunday. The threat in this situation was deemed not credible by the LPD, as was the rumored threat that was investigated in February at the Laramie High School.
Laramie Police Chief Dale Stalder said the LPD takes every threat seriously and investigates them to confirm there is no danger. Stalder spoke with Laramie Live to talk about the process the LPD uses in cases such as the one at LMS and LHS. Stalder said that while the LPD has developed standard response protocols for these types of incidents, the investigation process is the same as used for many other crimes the LPD investigates.
“For us, it is an investigation just like any other investigation,” Stalder said. “And a lot depends on how it comes in.”
Stalder said in the case of the threat against LHS in February, a student reported another student to the school administrators for what they believed to be threats of a school shooting. Stalder said that investigation began with school resource officers investigating witnesses and people involved.
The incident at LMS began when a middle school student showed a Snapchat video to their parents which contained threats. The parents called the police, who also began their investigation with interviews of all those involved.
Stalder said in both cases, the LPD worked closely with the school administration to make sure they are kept updated and to help the schools follow their internal procedures, which are independent of any criminal investigation.
“Any time we receive information about a criminal threat to a school whether it’s a school shooting or it’s a bomb threat, it’s no different than if we had information that students are using tobacco or marijuana or alcohol or students are involved in abuse, neglect, sexual assault. It’s really no different for us,” Stalder said. “We do that investigation to make the determination whether there’s any criminal intent, whether there’s credibility in those cases of a threat, or in the case of other examples, if a criminal violation has occurred, then we proceed accordingly from there.”
Stalder said in these investigations, as in every other investigation, the interviews conducted are important. Stalder said many people are interviewed more than once, as police try to determine the validity of the statements made during interviews. The LPD conducted many interviews with all those involved while investigating the threats to the middle school and the high school. Stalder said examining social media comes into play as well, if social media is relevant to the incident, such as the case at LMS, where the initial threat was made on Snapchat.
“It doesn’t look any different than any other investigation. It’s just trying to get to the bottom of the matter and making a determination in these cases if there is a credible threat or an incredible threat, versus a criminal investigation where you are trying to develop probable cause for an arrest,” Stalder said. “It’s the same to a police officer.”
Stalder said in these types of incidents, the LPD will do follow up after the threat is deemed not credible and sometimes stay in contact with the people involved, but only if it is deemed necessary.
“We have developed standard response protocals, as have the school district, for these types of incidents,” Stalder said. “So we are gonna stay in contact with those people and watch those people if there is a need to do that. If there is not a need to do that then the investigation ends. But we have that kind of in our ‘intelligence file’ if you will. We remember it.”
Stalder said the LPD also occasionally provides an extra presence after the investigation has concluded, whether the threat was credible or not. Stalder said they provided extra officer presence at the middle school this week after the investigation concluded.
Stalder said the LPD takes every threat seriously, no matter how unlikely it is.
“We take every threat or every complaint or every concern very very seriously, not just because of recent events like occurred in Florida, you know we want to make sure that our community and our students at school and at the university are safe, so we take all these complaints seriously,” Stalder said