As Hamilton Southeastern Schools Director of Staff and Student Services Ryan Taylor spent an hour helping educate parents about how the district works to keep students safe, his phone received a half dozen alerts from people reporting an alleged nationwide TikTok challenge encouraging violence in schools the following day.
HSE and the Fishers Police Dept. were already aware of the situation, but it helped prove a point Taylor made earlier during the virtual meeting: The district’s more than 21,000 students and their parents are the best sources of information when it comes to identifying possible threats.
“The best intelligence we get is from our kids and our community,” Taylor said.
Taylor joined several other HSE and FPD officials for a special edition of the Mayor’s Twilight Town Hall, held virtually on Dec. 16. The meeting was conducted less than two weeks after two students at Riverside Junior High School were arrested for making threats in separate incidents.
Many threats originate through social media, but Murphy said other online interactions frequently lead to reports, as well, such as from students who heard something unsettling from another student while playing video games or through interaction on a mobile app.
FPD Capt. Mike Johnson, who manages the school resource officers, said each officer placed in a school receives extensive training on how to work with students and respond to common issues in schools. When a threat is received, the SROs work closely with school administrators to determine if a threat is credible, and if it is, how to respond to it.
He said SROs work year-round to prevent active shooter situations and similar threats.
“We recognize as a police department if one of these happens in our schools, we’ve already failed our students and kids,” Johnson said.