LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - Since the Florida school massacre, people everywhere are on edge. In Southwest Louisiana, law enforcement have been busy with rumors and alleged school threats. While a few people have been arrested, there's no word of anyone who actually posed a danger to students or teachers in our area.
But, since the Florida massacre--people everywhere are on edge. And taking their fears to social media may do more harm than good.
Thursday morning, Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso says it's taking up a lot of time and manpower at their office..
"We literally have 30 to 40 deputies right now following up on leads. Some are not even in our area. They're outside of our jurisdiction that we're passing on or that somebody's getting off of social media that has nothing to do with our community," he said.
A social media post circulated in our area spoke of someone planning to bring a gun to school.. a school with the initials SHS, alarming people in Sulphur and beyond.
But Mancuso says it didn't take long for law enforcement to determine there was nothing to it.
"It happened to be not even be Sulphur High school. It was a different state altogether, that somebody sends this post to us. Well, we gotta look at it, okay? And of course we're already getting search warrants to look to see where the origin came from, and all that takes time and resources. So you're talking about five officers besides what's already at Sulphur High School. You're talking about the superintendent and his staff doing what they have to do, you're talking about me and my staff. You're talking about detectives, and that doesn't count the other things we're dealing with at with some of the other schools that may be true or not true," he said.
Such wasted resources and the storm of rumors on social media is spreading law enforcement thin, says Mancuso. He wants people to report suspicious activity--- but not to put rumors online.
"They're reposting or they're causing panic and havoc, it's just not appropriate and people are doing that and it's very frustrating for us," he said.
"I urge people, absolutely, if you think you see something report it to law enforcement. But don't pass that information on if you don't know if it's credible or not. Let us look into it and see if it's credible or not. What's happening is they get everybody in a panic. They just spread things all over social media instead of reporting it to law enforcement," said Mancuso.
District attorney John DeRosier says they must investigate any possible threats, still:
"We won't ignore anything, but at the same time we have to be cautious about not getting wrapped up in the weeds and by that I mean, getting wrapped in up things that are not really threats," said DeRosier.
And Mancuso urges parents to sit down and discuss these issues with their children.
"I think parents have got to sit their children down and talk to them about resolving conflict without violence, about their social media activity and not talking about violence nonchalantly," said Mancuso.
Because in the current climate, law enforcement and the schools have zero tolerance for anything that looks or sounds like a threat.
Young people who make threats may find their behavior comes back to haunt them years from now. More on that tomorrow.
Following this story see guidance from Louisiana State Police on reporting suspicious activity.
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Louisiana State Police Offer Guidance on Reporting Suspicious Activity
Baton Rouge - Following the recent tragic high school shooting in Parkland, FL, law enforcement throughout Louisiana and nationally have received numerous copycat type threats. In one instance in Tangipahoa Parish, the threat contained actual credible information which was quickly addressed by the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office. In another situation, a student in Evangeline Parish was arrested for posting online threats. However, the majority of threats received were found to have no credible danger to public safety.
Although we highly encourage citizens to report suspicious activity, we want to remind them that the increased sharing of unsubstantiated threats through social media stresses the resources available to respond to and investigate these claims. In the event you or a family member receive information pertaining to a threat, please carefully assess the information. For example, if the threat were time sensitive and viewed as an imminent danger, you should immediately call 911. If there is suspicious activity that may warrant further investigation or something that does not seem right, report this information to local law enforcement.
The sharing of unsubstantiated threats through social media could add chaos and panic to our school systems and further burden the facility, staff, and student body. Threats made to our schools, churches, and public institutions will be expeditiously investigated with every available resource. People who choose to make threats against others, be they real or not, can face serious charges in Louisiana. The terrorizing law in Louisiana is a felony and states that people who intentionally communicate information of a crime of violence, which causes the public to be in sustained fear for their safety, causes the evacuation of a building, or other serious disruption to the general public can be arrested and fined up to $15,000 and/or imprisoned for up to 15 years.
The Louisiana State Police Criminal Investigations Division (CID) is responsible for the investigation of criminal activity, and will continue to work together with our law enforcement partners to further our mission of protecting and serving the people of Louisiana. Furthermore, the Louisiana State Analytical & Fusion Exchange (LA-SAFE) will support federal, state, local and private sectors by working together to provide timely information for use in promoting public safety and national security against criminal threats.
All citizens play a critical role in protecting Louisiana and safeguarding our communities, and we want to remind citizens that if they "see something, send something." The See Send app by My Mobile Witness can be used to report suspicious or criminal activity. It allows information to be reported to law enforcement by smart phone. This free app for iPhone, iPad and Android offers users the ability to write or take a photo of anything that is suspicious. The app can be found at http://www.mymobilewitness.com/consumer-services.php.