Student tip helps officials avert potential threats of violence
School and law enforcement officials say three potential acts of violence at Dickson County High School have been averted during the last six months after students notified adults about threats made by classmates.
On one occasion in March and two incidents in August, police investigated tips from students about threats and were able to petition three juveniles into court for what they determined were credible threats. Since the individuals are minors, their names were not released by police or school officials.
Police said in a March incident, a student showed her grandmother a text from a male student in which he threatened to commit violence at DCHS the next day. The grandmother notified police and investigators from the Dickson County Police Department worked through the night to locate and interview the student. Police determined the student was serious enough about the threat that he was taken for a psychological evaluation and cited in a Dickson County Juvenile petition.
In the first incident in August, police said a student informed a school resource officer (SRO) at a football game of a threat of violence made by another student. The SRO notified investigators who located and interviewed that students who was cites in a juvenile court petition.
In an incident the next day, a student informed a parent of a threat to commit violence by a classmate and the parent notified school officials who called police. Investigators found the threat credible enough to seek a juvenile petition.
“The fact that we were able to stop potential acts of violence in the schools before they happened is the direct result of students being brave enough to tell an adult about the threats,” said Dickson Police Department Chief Jeff Lewis. “In all three of these incidents, a student heard something and told either a parent, grandparent or school resource officer, who then took the steps necessary for law enforcement to investigate the threats and stop a potential violent act. This will always be our first and best line of defense.”
DCHS administrators and Dickson County schools officials worked with law enforcement to ensure the safety of all students.
Director of Student Services Steve Sorrells said the school system not only stresses the importance of reporting potential issues, but is utilizing technology to give students another way to advise school officials.
“An emphasis of ours this year is ‘See Something — Say Something,’ which encourages students to report items to authorities,” Sorrells said. “This has been coupled with our StopIt app, which allows students to anonymously report items through the social media platform.”
Director of Schools Dr. Danny Weeks added that the school system and local law enforcement work well together to ensure a safe learning environment for all students.
“We are so appreciative of the relationship that the school system has with both the City of Dickson Police Department and the Dickson County Sheriff’s Office, who assist us in working through situations such as these,” Weeks said. “Safety is our first priority and our first responsibility to our staff and our students.”
The Dickson County School System’s Student Handbook says threats to the safety or property of others are “so serious that they usually require immediate administrative actions, which result in the immediate removal of the student from the school, and/or the intervention of law enforcement authorities and/or action by the Board of Education.” Threats of violence constitute a Level IV disciplinary violation.