GFPD increasing police presence at schools due to investigation

Updated at 2:45 p.m. Sept. 28

There will be an increased police presence today at Great Falls Public Schools, according to the Great Falls Police Department.

Det. Sgt. Katie Cunningham said in a release that investigators have been tracking a concerning image that likely originated through social media and has been shared numerous times locally.

The threat isn’t specific to any school, or Great Falls or Cascade County, according to GFPD.

school threat

The image under investigation.

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“GFPD and GFPS always take threats of this nature seriously and will act as swiftly as possible, within the bounds of our legal authority to identify and deter any potential threats. Starting or sharing images of this nature should understand it is not funny and could result in criminal charges,” according to a GFPD release.

Student in custody after making threat against GFHS

Due to the current stage of the investigation, GFPD is not providing further details at this time.

The image began circulating on Monday locally, according to several sources, and was not specific to Great Falls or any local schools. The image appears to have been circulating nationally, according to officials.

Superintendent Tom Moore and GFPD Capt. Doug Otto said that the image being circulated was unrelated to other incidents at Great Falls High over the last few days.

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“Please be cognizant of the information you share and the impact spreading misinformation may have on others. Disseminating rumors based on hearing only a portion of the story, or sheer speculation, is not only irresponsible-it can be dangerous,” according to GFPD.

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Moore and Otto said the additional police presence at GFPS schools on Sept. 28 was not the result of any specific threat but to remind any potential troublemakers and also the community that the police take any threats seriously and investigate them to keep schools safe.

Moore said there have been several incidents in recent days including off-campus fights, a disruptive student in a classroom, a fire alarm being pulled and a student air-dropping a threatening image.

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It’s “not a good note to start the school year on,” Moore said.

He said any incident, even those that turn out not to be credible, “causes huge disruption.”

Otto asked that parents take an active role and monitor their childrens social media usage and be familiar with the platforms they’re using.

Otto and Moore said they appreciate the students, parents and staff who report anything suspicious to the authorities to investigate.