School Shooting Reports Flood Across Iowa On Day Shooting App Released

Statewide Iowa — The commissioner of the Iowa Department of Public Safety says in an effort to get police to respond, someone (or more than one person) called in hoax reports of shootings at least 30 school districts across Iowa Tuesday morning.

The calls are called “swatting”. DPS commissioner Stephan Bayens says the first call came into Clinton and they were able to determine what happened.

Bayens says Clinton reacted well when the first call came in.

Clinton eventually canceled classes for the day. Bayens says the calls came in from east to west across the state, so there was a warning for schools as the situation progressed.

The swatting calls came on a day when Governor Kim Reynolds and Commissioner Bayens had already scheduled a news conference to talk about a new app developed by the Governor’s School Safety Bureau.

The new app is called “Safe and Sound Iowa” and it is available to let Iowans anonymously report school-related safety concerns. Special agent Don Schnitker is chief of the Governor’s School Safety Bureau.

Schnitker says in 80 percent of school shootings, at least one other person noticed concerning activity or behavior that might lead to violence.

There’s also a “Safe and Smart Iowa” website and a toll-free number for calls. Any report through the website, the phone or the app immediately goes to a law enforcement dispatcher.

Schnitker says all of Iowa’s public and private schools have been notified that the app and website were launched this Tuesday morning and the School Safety Bureau is providing schools with educational materials about the Safe and Sound Iowa program.

Several other school safety efforts have been launched recently. More than 1,200 emergency radios have been ordered for all K-12 school buildings to establish a direct line of communication with law enforcement. In January, safety assessments were completed for every building in 455 public districts and private schools. Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management director John Benson says entry control, electronic security and communications were addressed.

Schools may begin applying for $50,000 grants to make safety improvements. The Iowa Department of Education has hired a company to make detailed maps of school property, to help first responders navigate in an emergency. The agency is currently surveying schools to see if they want the maps made, starting this spring.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety is also offering free active shooting training to law enforcement and first responders as well as houses of worship, businesses and schools. More than 1,700 educators have recently undergone the training. Among other things, the training includes how to apply tourniquets and pack wounds to stop massive bleeding.

Reynolds says she was updated on the situation right away and was glad the calls did were not resultant of real shootings.

She says it highlights the importance of what the School Safety Bureau is trying to do to keep schools safe.

Commissioner Bayens says it is hard to track these types of calls and they often come from out of the state or country. He says they did follow the same pattern.

He was asked about the accent of the caller.

Bayens says these “swatting” calls are designed to draw in law enforcement and create confusion. He says they were able to mitigate some of that by immediately analyzing and determining these were, in fact, swatting calls.



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