Increased law enforcement presence expected at schools over TikTok threat
In a joint statement issued on Thursday afternoon, the superintendents of Marshall County’s three largest school districts announced plans for an increased law enforcement presence on Friday in response to a nationwide threat widely posted on TikTok declaring Dec. 17 “National School Shooting Day.”
So far, no threats have been deemed credible at the Marshalltown Community School District (MCSD), East Marshall or West Marshall, and classes will be held as normally scheduled. The statement goes on to urge parents to discuss appropriate uses for social media with their children and be aware of the consequences of making any kind of threat, and it also asks students to report any suspicious activity to either school authorities or law enforcement.
While it does not provide specifics, the statement indicates that an “enhanced presence” of law enforcement will be patrolling school areas at all three districts on Friday.
“This is a joint commitment of our law enforcement in preparation for threats of this magnitude,” the statement reads. “Please accept this joint school district statement as we closely work with one another at times when safety is a concern for our schools and communities.”
Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper declined to discuss any tactical strategies his officers would use but wanted the community to know the MPD is closely monitoring the situation.
“We’re aware of these social media postings, and we’re working closely with the school district to make sure the school environment is safe,” he said. “Unfortunately, that’s the world we live in with social media… It can be fun entertainment until it’s not.”
Marshall County Sheriff Joel Phillips expressed similar sentiments and his office has been engaged in conversations with area school officials since the threat came into the national spotlight a few weeks ago. The MCSO already has Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officers in the East Marshall, West Marshall and GMG districts, and they will be present as usual during the day Friday.
“We don’t plan on having a whole lot of extra presence unless we hear of something we should be aware of,” Phillips said. “We hope that nothing would ever happen, but if it does, it’s going to take resources from multiple agencies.”
East Marshall Superintendent Tony Ryan said the district is asking for the support of each of its communities in staying vigilant to maintain and improve school safety.
“School safety is a joint effort, and we’re all in this together. It’s vital that if you see something, say something,” Ryan said. “Every school patron I’ve crossed paths with always emphasizes the importance of school safety… They’re on board with wanting to know that our students, staff and patrons feel safe on campus. We have a very supportive environment here at East Marshall.”
Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255