Southern Illinois police chief responds to rising number of school threats

CARTERVILLE, IL (KFVS) - In the wake of recent mass shootings, many reports of threats made to schools across the country are surfacing. Just today, February 20th, Scott City R-1 School was put on lock down after a threat was made early that morning.

As of now, one person is in custody for that threat, but no arrests have been made.

Police departments across the nation are seeing these reports and taking measures to make sure they don't evolve into real, dangerous situations in their schools.

Heather Reno is the Chief of Police in Carterville, who says she keeps up regularly with the local superintendent and high school principal to look out for any red-flag situations in students and address each of them one at a time.

"My priority is to coordinate as much as I can with the schools. To figure out how collectively we're going to respond to the threats and we're going to have to handle each on a case by case basis," she said ,"depending on the age of the juvenile, the seriousness of the threat, the validity of the threat and just handle each one as they come."

She says after a threat has been addressed, if it is found to not be credible, she leaves the punishment to the school. If the school wishes to press charges, the case is forwarded to the State's Attorney's juvenile unit.

These threats affect Reno on a personal level, as she has a daughter in high school.

"It terrifies me, it really does. I have a 16 year old and I have a hard time comprehending how we are unable to convey to kids that what they think is funny could get them killed," she said in regards to situations where police believe a student is in possession of a lethal firearm.

Moving forward, Chief Reno says that threats of violence are nothing to joke about, and anyone who believes a student could be an actual threat should speak out to a teacher, counselor, or the police.

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