Responding to rumors

Reed City municipal, school district officials are forced to deal with rumors of potential threats to public safety

REED CITY - Over the past few days, Reed City Police Department Chief Chuck Davis has been expending a lot of his law enforcement team’s energy and resources tracking down the roots of a purported threat of violence allegedly made by a student in the RCAPS district against members of his own family. The threat was initially made on Monday by a student riding a Reed City Area Public Schools district bus between Big Rapids and Reed City. The threat reportedly was based on a hyper-anxious response to highly publicized reports of the “end of the world” as suggested by the reading of an ancient Mayan calendar. “The entire situation is simply odd,’ said Davis. “However, we can’t simply judge the reasons behind the things people say and do. We must respond and make sure there is actually no threat to public safety. “In this case, when we took into account comments reportedly made by the student, along with the highly publicized Mayan calendar thing, and the tragic events of recent days, the incident was made even more complex. We simply make sure everything was OK.” Rumors following comments made on the school bus developed and grew into a wide range of tales ranging from unfounded reports of guns at school buildings in the district, to rumored threats against other students and staff. None of these rumors were true to any degree whatsoever. “Reed City schools were never under any threat, nor was there ever a lock-down situation,” said RCAPS superintendent Steven Westhoff. “There were indeed comments made on a district school bus that were reported to the administrative office. “We contacted the police department, and they responded immediately.” Davis and his officers interviewed students involved in starting and spreading the rumor, and interviewed the student and family involved. Taking into consideration the recent incident at an elementary school in Connecticut, Davis and school officials believe every effort to put the rumors to rest were efforts well spent. “Our first priority is keeping all residents of this community safe,” said Davis. “If we exaggerate, or error in the efforts and resources we spend on an incident of this sort, we will live with it. “It is always better to be safe than sorry.”