Securing our Schools

17-year-old El Capitan High student arrested for making school shooting threat, Merced Police say

Classes went on as scheduled at El Capitan High School on Friday, but news of a school shooting threat had a noticeable impact on the campus.

Officials say 250 students were absent or went home, compared to about 50 or 60 on a typical Friday. Despite the fact, officers arrested the suspect hours before school began.

“We did receive the all-clear this morning for classes to resume as normal,” said Sam Yniguez.

Officials say they first heard of the threat around 11 p.m. Thursday, when a student sent a message through the Merced Union High School District’s Tip411 system.

“It’s an anonymous hotline that lets students or staff report any safety concerns they see or hear about,” Yniguez said. “So once we became aware, the district started working with the Merced Police Department on the investigation.”

Police also received a call from that student’s mother and immediately began following leads. By 5:30 a.m., they had arrested the 17-year-old El Capitan student and taken two guns from his home.

“This individual we have in custody has been in contact with law enforcement before, so we’re looking into what his background is,” said Lt. Jay Struble. “Our detectives are still looking into this case, getting information off his social media accounts, his electronic devices, phones, computers all that to come up with a possible motive.”

This case comes after a Golden Valley High freshman was arrested last April for making a false active shooter report over a school radio, prompting a massive law enforcement response.

Police say they have to take every threat seriously, and they hope students will do the same.

“You never know which one could be the one to create an unfortunate situation just like yesterday in Santa Clarita,” Lt. Struble said.

The suspect, in this case, is being held in juvenile hall for making criminal threats, but police say the district attorney’s office could choose to charge him as an adult.

The possible punishment ranges from fines and probation to prison time depending on what prosecutors and the court system decide.

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Hebron Schools Tips

Hebron Schools awarded grant for tip411

Safety is a top priority at Hebron Schools. Thanks to Kankakee Valley REMC’s Operation Round Up, Hebron now has one more way to help their students feel safe. The company awarded the a grant school to help cover the costs of an anonymous tip line.

The Hebron Tip411 app allows students to report concerns to administrators and school resource officers without the worry of retaliation. Hebron Middle School Principal Jeff Brooks says, “This empowers students to have a voice in keeping their school a safe place.” Students can send a message through the app or simply text their concerns. The app also allows them to include images and video.

Since the launch in late August, staff and administrators have received over 20 reports that have enabled them to be proactive in preventing student concerns from becoming serious events. Reports on potential bullying, fighting, vaping, drug use, and student welfare are just a few of the tips that have been received by administrators.

“Over half of our tips have included photos or screenshots of the issue being reported,” School Safety Director, Mike Grennes says. The photos and screenshots give administrators an advantage in determining how to track down and handle these concerns.

Lake Co Sheriff Department

Editorial: On drugs, alcohol, resist being the ‘cool’ parent

Deciding to become a whistle-blower is a process fraught with questions and doubt.

You worry about what people will think of you. You worry about becoming a pariah. You worry about how your revelation will affect others, often people you know.

You must be able to convince yourself that by exposing nefarious activity, you will eliminate a dangerous situation and, in the end, make things better.

Not all whistle-blower complaints will lead to presidential impeachment inquiries. In Lake County, the sheriff’s office is entering a four-year trial program with the Stand Strong Coalition to facilitate a crackdown on teen drinking and drug use by encouraging parents and kids to make anonymous tips.

“Parents and students tell me all of the time that they know where underage drinking is occurring, and they worry for the youth involved,” Jamie Epstein, executive director of the Stand Strong Coalition, told our Doug Graham. “However, they have not found a way to share their tips with police in a way that feels comfortable to them. We are pleased to partner with the Lake County sheriff’s office to offer parents and youth this tool to do the right thing when they know of illegal and unsafe activity.”

To anonymously send in a tip to the Lake County Sheriff’s office, send a text message to 847-411 and start the message with “123 TIP.” You’re encouraged to include as much detail as possible. The sheriff’s office will act as go-between, sharing the tip with the appropriate law enforcement agency.

You might shrug and say, “Kids will be kids. We did it when we were younger.”

Perhaps some of us did, but not all of us made it to adulthood.

The Drug or Alcohol Impaired Minor Responsibility Act became law 15 years ago after a raucous hazing ritual at a Glenbrook North High School powder puff football game resulted in a drunken brawl that landed five girls in the hospital.

It bears repeating every homecoming season that any adult who supplies alcohol or drugs to minors is liable for what might happen later — usually when someone gets behind the wheel of a car.

If you find the distinction between right and wrong elusive in situations like this, just know that you could face limitless damages if someone were to be killed as a result of you being a “cool” parent.

With the legalization of recreational cannabis for adults just around the corner, this message is more important than ever.

Read the full article from the Daily Herald

Safer Schools Screenshot

An app allows students to message their principals when they hear a threat. Find out which districts are using it

We’re used to seeing teenagers with faces glued to their phones to text a friend, but now students in the North Syracuse Central School District have an app to message their principal.

So far, the anonymous form of communication has stopped fights in the hallway and busted students vaping in the bathroom, but the app allows students who see something, to say something, when they see a threat on social media.

Tip411 is a technology suggested by the Onondaga County School Safety Task Force, which was put together last year by the Onondaga County District Attorney after 17 people will killed in the Parkland, Florida high school shooting.

DA Bill Fitzpatrick says he was compelled to put together the group, knowing that police missed many warning signs in Parkland.

Tip411 is already available to all citizens in Onondaga County, as a way to reach their local police. But now, many school districts are getting the app, or something similar, for students to talk with administrators.

NewsChannel 9 surveyed local superintendents and based on their responses and what’s available publicly on district websites, these are what the district’s offer in terms of anonymous tip lines:


  • North Syracuse (uses Tip411)
  • West Genesee (uses Tip411 and Tip Line)
  • Westhill (uses Tip 411)
  • Solvay (uses Tip 411 and Tip Line)
  • Syracuse (working on implementing Tip411)
  • Marcellus (working on implementing Tip411 )

See the full story from News Channel 9

Waxahachie ISD

Waxahachie ISD launches anonymous crime reporting app

Students of the Waxahachie Independent School District can now anonymously report suspicious activities using their cellphones.

tip411 allows students, staff, parents and the wider community to ” to share important safety information anonymously with district and campus administrators by sending them secure messages with information about bullying, drug use, and suspicious or potentially criminal activity via a free smartphone app,” according to a Friday press release.

“When a tip comes in, it will go to the campus administrator, our district head of security, our superintendent and the executive director of secondary or elementary learning, depending on if the tip is for an elementary or secondary campus,” District Spokesperson Jenny Bridges said.

The Waxahachie ISD says the free mobile app allows students and staff to play a role in keeping their schools safe without fear of retribution.

“Waxahachie ISD students excel in every area, from academics to fine arts to athletics and more,” said Dr. Bonny Cain, Waxahachie ISD Superintendent. “But our students can’t achieve if they don’t feel safe, and we believe the tip411 anonymous reporting system will add another level of safety and security to our campuses.”

The launch comes on the heels of an incident at Midlothian High School on Sept. 6 where the school went into lockdown after two students reported to staff what the District called “a possible threat.” The lockdown lasted several hours while police, dressed in combat gear and carrying heavy machinery, combed the building.

“We always encourage our students if they see or hear something to say something,” said Midlothian Independent School District Superintendent Lane Ledbetter in a statement posted on Facebook hours after the lockdown was lifted. “These two students did just that – reported what they thought they saw and heard.”

“After a long and thorough investigation, the Midlothian Police Department deemed the threat was unsubstantiated,” Ledbetter added.

tip411 is already being used by schools, police departments and community groups across the country. Critics of the app, however, say the system might become overwhelmed with frivolous tips that will take away the attention of investigators from serious incidents.

“The tip411 system has been successful in communities across the U.S.,” said Terry Halsch, president of tip411, in the release. “We are excited to work with Waxahachie ISD to bring our innovative app and text a tip system to connect and engage students directly to participate in promoting safety in their halls.”

Those without the app can still text anonymously by sending a message to 847411, beginning with a keyword linked to the school they are reporting about.

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