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Knowing Enough to be Dangerous - San Antonio schools’ threat of violence

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Last week, law enforcement shared notice that several north side elementary schools had received threats via email relating to mass violence on or around April 24 in San Antonio. Upon first hearing this news, there were a variety of responses.

Some parents panicked. There was talk of keeping their kids home from school, and complaints from some about what law enforcement was or was not doing enough of.

Some got angry that the information had even been put out because of the panic it caused. They were not going to let yet another situation of threats of violence force them into being “cowards”.

Some questions were raised:

  • Was it from a disgruntled student protesting STAAR testing?
  • Was it a diversion? Why threaten an elementary school? Did the threat maker want law enforcement’s focus to be on elementary schools so they could carry through an act of violence somewhere else?
  • How credible was the information, how big a threat was it really, and was the threat maker from somewhere else but related to somebody here in San Antonio?

When the agencies - because there were several law enforcement agencies working together to investigate the threat - determined that the threat was NOT credible, some people still freaked out, proving it doesn’t matter what or how much information is put out there, you can’t please everyone.

Schools made the decision to be open but with a safety plan in place; they also had a bigger police presence on campuses; and some dads did “dad patrol” and behaved as extra eyes on their kids’ campuses.

However, with an average attendance rate of 95% on a typical school day, there were those parents who, “in an abundance of caution”, made the decision to keep their children home on Thursday, from school districts all over San Antonio and even New Braunfels, causing an average of 62% attendance that day. If law enforcement had thought the threat was credible, would they have sent their own kids to school? Would they have reported that the threat was NOT credible if it really was?

There were only two possible outcomes to this scenario: that something terrible would happen, or that something terrible would not happen. Which begs the questions: how much information is beneficial, how much is too much, and what will people do with it?

There were those who complained that the information should not have been put out there in the first place if the threat wasn’t credible. Well, law enforcement didn’t know the threat wasn’t credible until they investigated enough. If they had not said anything when they first found out about it, which is all part of transparency and communication and keeping the community safe, how many would have complained that they’d kept important safety information to themselves?

A lot.

Then there were those who complained that ALL of the information wasn’t shared, and that law enforcement still kept details secret.

The takeaway is that there will always be people who complain.

Maybe the way it was handled by law enforcement was exactly the way it should have been handled. Maybe not. Maybe there should be less complaining and more awareness, which this situation brought to the forefront.

Did you send your child to school on April 24 or did you keep them home? Are you satisfied with the choice you made?

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