School threat protocols and procedures explained by safety experts

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind — Public safety experts are weighing in what factors go into determining school threat procedures and if the threats are credible.

On Thursday afternoon, classes and activities were canceled at UIndy after a bomb threat was reported. Students were evacuated. Just hours later, Ball State University issued a shelter in place for students after a man was reported on campus with a gun.

Public safety expert Peter Beering said college campuses are tasked with making quick decisions when it comes to the credibility of threats.

“Evaluating what was threatened, determine whether or not the threat was credible, try to figure out whether the person making the threat has a the capability operationally to pull off that threat, and then they make a determination as to what their response should be,” Beering said.

Having as much information as possible is crucial to the decision making process, Beering said. That’s why many organizations may enlist the help of local law enforcement and even homeland security.

While every threat is not necessarily credible, Beering said many schools err on the side of student safety. “The boy who cried wolf” complex is taken into account as well.

“It’s always difficult to second guess. There’s always a risk, anytime you have an academic institution, whether it’s a high school, primary school, or college that people will copy cat the threat and will use this as a mechanism to get out of the next exam, next paper,” Beering said.

The man seen on Ball State’s campus with a gun is not a student. School officials said the 20-year-old man had a gun carry permit. A juvenile with him, who was not armed, is also not a student. Both have been informed of the campus’ no-weapon policy and have been banned from campus. No charges are expected.

For more information on UIndy’s threat protocol, click here. For more information on Ball State’s threat protocol, click here.

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