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How Campus Police Evaluate Threats At Ohio State

Ohio State

  Ohio State University police and local, state and federal law enforcement officials continue to search for who made an anonymous threat of violence to the campus community. 

Students, faculty and staff were notified of the threat via email early Tuesday morning.  More police and other public safety officials spent time on campus until the immediate concern passed.

The below transcript is an automated transcript of the above conversation. Please excuse minor typos and errors.

Debbie Holmes: What do you take into consideration though to actually take it to that level that it is a viable threat?

Craig Stone: Well when we receive a threat there is two things we have to do one thing is operational. The police responses to investigate and try to determine whether the threat is credible or not, whether we can identify the person and get that person located and arrested. But then we have a due diligence to the campus community to make them aware that there is a threat and what actions we want them to take.

So for example yesterday (Tuesday), we wanted to people to be vigilant and to call us if they saw anything that was suspicious activity or suspicious behavior to call us. We did receive tips yesterday and we acted on those tips and it turned out to be nothing, but just two days ago we had a call of a man with a gun. And glad that a faculty member called us, but it ended up being a pepper spray gun that looked like a real gun.

DH: So in that situation then there was no alert put out?

CS: There was no alert put out because it was active, we got the suspect and we was able to come to a resolution with it.

DH: It seems then that that it's something that you have to be very cautious about, yet you have to be also actively involved.

CS: Yes ma'am.

DH: So given you expand upon that at all as to the difficulties of deciding to act or to lay back and find out more information?

CS: Well we're always going to act on information that we get, we're going to follow up on it. I mean that's what we encourage and preach to people, if you see something say something.

So one example is a Buckeye Alert for example if we find out there's an active shooter on campus, we're going to send on a Buckeye Alert and we're going to tell people to stay away from campus or a certain area campus. Or if there's a natural disaster such as bad weather or a severe storm, we're going to use a Buckeye alert to notify all our affiliates to stay away from campus and what precautionary measures they need to take because we do have some people that are there still going to be on campus whether its students, faculty or staff.

DH: So what made you decide to stay to put out a safety notice?

CS: We felt it was even though there was ongoing investigation we felt important to let the campus community know that a threat had been made and we wanted people to be more vigilant, and if they saw anything to let us know. We increased our staffing with uniform and plain clothes (police officers) and we also got assistance from other law enforcement agencies, and we just want to make sure the campus community was more vigilant. There was no identified location for where this was going to occur.

DH: We talked with some students Tuesday who were kind of confused and frustrated about seeing the safety notice about a threat but not getting any more details.

CS: We eventually sent out another update and we sent other updates out to to give out more information, but when the first alert went out we gave limited information and just wanted people to be aware and to be vigilant.

Debbie Holmes began her career in broadcasting in Columbus after graduating from The Ohio State University. She left the Buckeye state to pursue a career in television news and worked as a reporter and anchor in Moline, Illinois and Memphis, Tennessee.