Cooperation between police, schools essential to protecting students

Published 12:20 pm Friday, March 4, 2016

As demonstrated earlier this week, the partnership between Dowagiac police and school district continues to help ensure the safety of our most vulnerable population — our children.

On Tuesday, Cass County Central Dispatch received a phone call from someone who said “a shooting at the school” several times before laughing and hanging up. The operator who received the strange call noted the person on the line sounded young and didn’t appear to be excited or under duress.

In spite of the vague and seemingly non-threatening nature of the call, Dowagiac police still sprung into action, deploying officers to school buildings in the immediate area. The officers quickly determined there was no danger to students after communicating with administrators at each building and searching the interior and exterior of the premises.

Working with police, senior leaders with the district decided not to place the buildings on lockdown due to lack of apparent threat, though they did place phone calls to local households telling them about the incident.

The next day, school officials and police worked together again to help identify a pair of middle school boys who they suspect of placing the fraudulent 911 call. Police have turned over the results of their investigation to the Cass County Prosecutor’s Office, which will decide whether or not to press charges for the prank call.

The swift action taken by these local entities mirrors a similar response taken by authorities in Niles in early January, after a rumor began circulating that a student was going to bring a gun to Niles High School. Like the incident in Dowagiac, police and administrators quickly responded to what was a vague and unclear threat, ensuring that local kids were not placed in any sort of danger.

We want to commend leaders in both Dowagiac and Niles for this commitment to our children’s safety.

School shootings and other acts of violence committed against youth are still a far too common occurrence this day and age. In fact, it was only the day before the Dowagiac incident that a student at Madison Jr-Sr School in Ohio shot four classmates during lunchtime at the school cafeteria.

With that in mind, to see local police and school officials cooperate to ensure such tragedies don’t occur in our communities is certainly comforting.

It’s also good to see that both Dowagiac and Niles school leaders were transparent in releasing information to parents about their respective incidents. When it comes to things involving children, naturally parents become frightened and concerned, which can cause misinformation to begin swirling about. Thanks to the quick response from school officials, parents can learn exactly what is going on.

We hope that our local officials continue to work together to protect our children.


Opinions expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Ambrosia Neldon, Craig Haupert, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.