Solutions to Reduce Unnecessary Panic During Potential School Shootings

As your laser-focused LOCAL NEWS source, we continue to cover this national news story only because it did affect our local communities recently.

State Police were on scene at the University of Oklahoma Friday evening to investigate a potential active shooter incident.

The following message was sent from the school, “OU-Norman Emergency: There is an active shooter at the Van Vleet Oval. Take immediate action now. Run. Hide. Fight!,” the first warning said.

In later updates, the university changed the description to “possible shots fired.”

THEREIN lies the problem! The University, much like the high schools, are making a HUGE mistake by ANNOUNCING that there IS an active shooter.

Remember, scanner traffic is not news until confirmed, and eyewitness accounts are often unreliable.

Then, once the ‘official’ school puts out an alert like that, everyone repeats it as fact. THAT IS WHERE PANIC BEGINS. They put out these alerts AS IF they are actual news.

At Scotts Bluff County Scanner, we are continually trying to educate the public on the difference between scanner traffic and actual news. Schools are making a SERIOUS MISTAKE by not qualifying these incidents as a ‘report of an active shooter’ or ‘scanner traffic’ vs ‘there is an active shooter’.

Remember, scanner traffic is not news until confirmed, and eyewitness accounts are often unreliable.

You’ll notice how OU later changed it to ‘possible shots fired.’ At that point, the PANIC had already begun with parents, media, and even police being TOLD there IS an active shooter.

When we post an alert, it is Scanner Traffic UNTIL we have investigated the incident enough to write a news story with verification directly from the source whenever possible.

Our goal is to inform the public of the truth in a manner that reduces panic to a minimum. We can not help the fact that some people panic anytime something sensitive is posted. We also have some folks who get upset if we don’t post breaking news. Remember, we take time to verify, verify, verify so that we will continue to be the most accurate, not necessarily fastest, news source for LOCAL news.

The message from OU, as well as the premature announcement over the school’s intercom system on March 2, should have been worded much more carefully until FULLY verified.

A call from a non-verifiable number is saying ‘3 students have been shot’ is the actual scanner traffic. It’s true – the words ‘there has been a report of 3 students shot’ is what came across the scanner. However, did WE report that? NO! Because… scanner traffic is not news until confirmed.

On that day, scanner traffic did indicate a shooter at the high school, and that is what ‘the scanner page’ posted. Within seconds of hearing the officers and dispatch confirm there was no threat, we had that posted.

On that day in March, within minutes of the initial call, Andrea Hale began authoring a well-researched, authoritative piece covering all 19 incidents in 6 states that very morning, calling it a SWATing Hoax.

Our immediate response came within minutes.

We are here to inform the public of newsworthy information in a manner that reduces any potential for panic.

I had parents calling and texting, wanting to know if it was real. They wanted ‘the scanner page’ to tell them what to do. I had to REMAIN CALM and THINK THROUGH it before we even posted.

This panic is being created by alerts that cause students to immediately text and call their parents before the facts are known.

There were parents arriving at the school BEFORE we made our initial post. Follow the timeline for yourself. Timeline analysis almost always helps bring the truth to light.

Schools and any organization should remember to use phrases like, ‘there is a report of’, or ‘scanner traffic indicates,’ or ‘someone is saying’ but NOT ‘there is’, unless you KNOW there is.

Panic causes more harm than good and may jeopardize our response when the real one hits home. Remain calm when you hear initial reports, please and thank you, community!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s