Violent threats overwhelm Jefferson County

In response, Auraria Campus Police ensure safety

The effects of Parkland, Fla. have slipped into the school experience in Jefferson County. Numerous threats have been sent to local high schools, leaving families fearing for their students’ safety.

Photo courtesy of The Washington Post

On Feb. 20, a student at Bear Creek High School in Lakewood posted a violent threat on Snapchat. Students who saw his story reported it to Safe2Tell, a confidential reporting source for high schoolers—spurring an investigation that began that night. The investigation resulted in the arrest of the student.

While classes at Bear Creek the next day were scheduled to operate as normal, many families of students felt the fear from Parkland and kept their students home from school. Parents who decided to call their students in with excused absences that day were told to be patient because the phone lines were overwhelmed with calls. Bear Creek students said that an eerily few number of students came to school the day following the threat.

“In a class that usually has about 30 students, only like 10 showed up,” said Bear Creek freshman Megan Hergert. “It was so scary that I went home early.”

The threat to Bear Creek wasn’t the only high school in Jefferson County to receive threats in the days following the shooting in Parkland. A student at Arvada West High school wrote a message in both the boys and girls bathrooms, describing a shooting at the school to happen in following days. On Monday, Dakota Ridge High school received a threat on Snapchat, according to the Denver Post. Each threat in Jeffco was investigated and later dismissed as non-credible threats.

While people are relieved that the threats did not result in actions, fear surrounding the possibility of a shooting on any school campus is rising. Luckily for CU Denver students, the Auraria Campus Police are prepared for any threat that may face any of the three schools on the campus.

“In total, there’s about 45,000 people that come to these schools or work here,” Auraria Campus Police Chief Michael J. Phibbs, said. At busy passing period times, Auraria Campus Police can expect 35,000 people, making it one of the largest campuses in Colorado. To ensure the safety of the campus, the Auraria Campus Police Department has 52 officers, 32 of which are armed. Each Auraria Campus Police officer is a state-certified officer.

“We do more training than most other officers by far,” Chief Phibbs said. Groups of officers are assigned to each building for each school on the Auraria Campus. “Those guys and gals get to know those buildings really well. They know if something is out of place, if the rhythm is off, if doors are broken, and so on.”

The Auraria PD also has a 24-hour dispatch center. If any student, staff, or faculty member needs to report anything from a medical emergency to physical violence, they can call or text the campus dispatch for Campus Police to respond within minutes.

The probability of a mass shooting on a school campus are extremely rare; according to Chief Phibbs, being struck by lightning is more likely than an active shooting scenario. As the Denver Metro area recovers from the wave of threats in past weeks, students on the Auraria Campus can rest assured that the safety protocols in place by the Auraria Campus police ensure utmost security while attending school.

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