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Fictitious report places California schools on lockdown

by Garrett Fuller | March 29, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

A fictitious report made to Moniteau County's 911 dispatch placed California schools on lockdown.

Superintendent Daniel Williams said the district took protective measures Monday afternoon after Moniteau County Emergency Dispatch (MCED) received reports of an emergency at California High School. Upon investigation by the Moniteau County Sheriff's Office and California Police Department, it was determined the call -- labeled as a "swatting call" by the district in a Facebook post regarding the incident -- was fictitious and there was no credible threat to students or staff in the district.

Cpl. Scott Harkins, a school resource officer for the Moniteau County Sheriff's Office working in California schools, said Tuesday the incident involved a threat made toward the school. He added the incident is still under investigation by the sheriff's office.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety, a swatting call "refers to a false claim intended to trigger an immediate and widespread law enforcement deployment or emergency service response to a specific location." The calls typically consist of reporting a fictitious emergency, such as a bomb threat or active shooter situation.

Williams said MCED received the call at approximately 12:10 p.m. From there, he said, a lockdown was initiated in all district buildings. It took approximately 10 minutes for law enforcement to investigate the call and allow the district to resume normal operation.

"Unfortunately, a disruption of this type is one that takes much discussion with students, staff, and families to ensure that everyone knows that we are safe and secure," Williams said. "We commend our students and staff for their response in moving into a lockdown while following our procedures for these types of events."

All reports must be treated seriously, Williams said, to ensure the safety of students and staff.

"Our response will always be immediate until a reported threat can be neutralized and or found not to be credible," he said.

Swatting calls have become a growing problem for school districts across the country. According to a Johnson County Sheriff's Office news release posted on its Facebook page, Knob Noster Public Schools in western Missouri also went into lockdown Thursday afternoon after the Johnson County 911 Center received a similar swatting call less than 30 minutes before MCED received the fictitious report at California High School. On March 21, the Iowa Department of Public Safety reported 30 of the calls were made throughout the state, impacting schools in 23 communities. On March 22, WMTV-TV reported at least five schools in Wisconsin were also impacted by the calls. State and federal law enforcement agencies are investigating the incidents, Harkins said.

Print Headline: Fictitious report places California schools on lockdown


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