The Tennessee Office of Homeland Security has looked into 344 school threats since August 2023.

Tennessee’s Office of Homeland Security has been inundated with almost 350 reports of school threats throughout the state since the start of the school year. This alarming number of reports reflects the growing concern for school safety. It is worth noting that many of these reports were submitted through the SafeTN app, demonstrating the effectiveness and popularity of this platform in ensuring the well-being of students and staff.

The SafeTN app, which was introduced in 2019 and later redesigned, enables users to report potential threats and worrisome behavior anonymously. In addition to this, the app provides resources for individuals facing mental health challenges. Authorities diligently investigate every threat report received through the app and other communication channels.

When a threat is received, the school district’s multidisciplinary threat assessment team, mandated by a recent state law, promptly initiates an investigation. Collaborating with local law enforcement and other relevant entities, the team assesses the credibility of the threat and evaluates whether the individual responsible possesses the capability and intent to carry out the act.

“Investigating threats is an essential part of our work, as not all of them involve actual capability and intent,” explained Greg Mays, Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Office of Homeland Security. He emphasized that sometimes these threats may simply arise from a student attempting to avoid a math test. However, until a thorough investigation is conducted, it is impossible to discern the true nature of these threats.”

According to Mays, the Office of Homeland Security in TN has received 344 reports of school threats since Aug. 1. However, Mays believes that this number only represents the threats that were reported to the state, and there were likely more incidents that went unreported.

According to Mays, the frequency of threats to schools in Tennessee has increased significantly due to the prevalence of digital communications. He states that there is at least one threat reported every day, emphasizing the role technology plays in enabling such incidents.

Technology, including social media and artificial intelligence, poses a constant threat of violence towards schools.

The Office of Homeland Security is leveraging technology to its advantage with the SafeTN app, offering Tennesseans an additional means to report threats and other concerning behavior.

According to Mays, it has been widely researched by the National Threat Assessment Center and other institutions that the most effective approach to safeguarding our schools and communities involves implementing various reporting channels. The key is to establish a culture that not only welcomes and encourages reporting, but also takes swift action upon receiving such information.

According to Mays, it is important for individuals to report any potential threat they come across, no matter how insignificant it may appear. By doing so, officials can thoroughly investigate the situation and prevent any potential tragedy.

As the Deputy Commissioner of Homeland Security, I am frequently asked about the biggest threat that concerns me in Tennessee. My response is always the same: it’s the one I don’t know about. When I am aware of a threat, I can take immediate action to investigate and work towards preventing it from causing harm.

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MBS Staff
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