WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — The Polk County Sheriff is ramping up the county’s efforts when it comes to detecting the next school threat.
Grady Judd announced he will have an intelligence unit focusing in on school threats and will be expanding the unit to 24/7 response by the fall of 2019.
“If someone sees a threat on Facebook or hears their friends say ‘I’m going to bomb the school tomorrow’ this specialized group of people will dig in to see if it’s a credible real threat or is it a bunch of 8th or 9th graders just talking,” Sheriff Grady Judd, with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said.
ABC Action News discovered over the past year there have been 159 school threats made and investigated in Polk County alone.
Many of those didn’t turn out to be credible.
However, the sheriff says with the new 24/7 unit investigators will be able to immediately look into and analyze the threat no matter the time of day.
“It will be immediate follow up, real time intelligence analysis based on threats or perceived threats,” Judd said.
ABC Action News spoke with one mother who says she suffers from anxiety when sending her children to school after a school shooting has recently happened.
The new 24/7 unit, she says, will provide a little peace of mind.
“Whether they investigate it or not there are still children going for the gun and going into schools and killing people,” Milania Susi, a mother said.
We looked into sheriff’s offices around the Tampa Bay area to see if they have any sort of 24/7 school threat intelligence and found out Polk will be the first of its kind in the area.
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says it does not have a designated school threat unit.
If they get a call to investigate a school threat, they do.
Hillsborough County Sheriff does not have a designated unit either.
If a school threat is received, either an SRO or a patrol deputy will respond and determine if the threat is credible or not, they will then report to the school board for discipline.