Oskaloosa Among Many Iowa Schools Have ‘Swatting’ Calls

The initial portion is the statement from the Oskaloosa Schools Superintendent Mike Fisher in regards to Tuesday’s ‘Swatting’ call.

Dear Oskaloosa Families and Staff,

Today, our High School was the subject of an anonymous “swatting call”. The threat was determined not to be credible. Out of an abundance of caution, we still utilized all of our normal response with local law enforcement to ensure our schools were safe by securing all of our campuses and conducting safety searches. We are now back to normal operations and learning is continuing as scheduled. Local law enforcement will also be present at all of our campuses the remainder of the day and especially during dismissal.

We are also aware that anonymous “swatting calls” are being made today to law enforcement agencies across the nation, including our district, making threats to schools.

“Swatting calls” are calls made to law enforcement or directly to schools, businesses, public libraries, or other entities where the public gathers. These calls are an attempt to trigger the dispatch of emergency services to a particular address.

The safety of our students and staff is our top priority. We are working closely with law enforcement to monitor the situation locally and statewide. As always, thank you for your support and your partnership as we work to ensure a safe learning environment for our students.

Mike Fisher

The Iowa Department of Public Safety sent out a press release later in the day regarding the ‘Swatting’ calls to numerous other schools across the State of Iowa.

March 21, 2023

DES MOINES, Iowa – Today, several school districts across Iowa received “swatting calls” that referend an alleged active shooter scenario. According to Department of Public Safety officials, the first swatting call originated in Clinton County at approximately 8:00 a.m., and the last call was received at 10:30 a.m. in Creston. Officials estimate that approximately 30 calls were received by local law enforcement agencies.

A “swatting call” refers to a false claim intended to trigger an immediate and widespread law enforcement deployment or emergency service response to a specific location. Hoax reports such as the ones experienced today commonly consist of claims of serious violent attacks, such as a bomb threat, active shooter, and/or a hostage situation.

Iowa Department of Public Safety Commissioner Stephan K. Bayens said these false reports are a tactic intended to illicit a large-scale law enforcement response. “The design of it is to create confusion and chaos. It’s designed to draw a large law enforcement presence to a school even though there is no active threat. And by all accounts and for all intents and purposes, it appears thus far that is what Iowa experienced today.”

Bayens said today’s swatting calls impacted the following communities:

• Cedar Rapids
• North Liberty
• Iowa City (multiple schools)
• Clinton
• Davenport
• Muscatine
• Cerro Gordo County
• Story County
• Lee County (multiple schools)
• Waterloo
• Boone
• Mason City
• Charles City
• Clear Lake
• Creston
• Des Moines
• Oskaloosa
• Marshalltown
• Monona
• Nevada
• North Liberty
• Ottumwa
• Decorah

Immediately after receiving these calls, local law enforcement and school officials reported all relevant information to the Department’s Division of Intelligence and Fusion Center, which then re-disseminated the information to local law enforcement agencies throughout the state. Bayens said this proactive information sharing allows schools and law enforcement to better determine their response protocols should one of their schools receive a similar call. “By reporting these calls to us, we can quickly inform our school and law enforcement partners, which in this case may have impacted the nature of their response and stemmed the flow of more calls to other communities,” Bayens said.

The Department is continuing to work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate and identify the caller. Bayens said the initial information leads investigators to believe the calls are similar in nature and likely originated from a single source.

State school safety officials and Governor Kim Reynolds were able to quickly inform the public about the swatting calls as part of a scheduled press conference and launch of a new school safety app called Safe+Sound Iowa. The app was made available to all public school districts and accredited non-public schools today. Parents, students, and community members can anonymously report any tips to law enforcement through dps.iowa.gov/SafeandSoundIowa, downloading the free Safe+Sound Iowa app, or by calling 800-224-6018.

Posted by on Mar 21 2023. Filed under Local News, State News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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