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Farmington police to increase presence in schools after online shooting threat
FARMINGTON — Students and staff members in Farmington schools will see an increase in police presence in district buildings for the rest of the school year.
That moves comes as a teenage girl has been charged with allegedly making a social media threat earlier this week targeting Tibbetts Middle School.
The police department and administrators from the Farmington Municipal School District have finalized a plan to have uniformed officers make unannounced visits to the schools, according to a Farmington police press release.
Farmington Superintendent Gene Schmidt said the visits will give the officers a chance to become familiar with students and with campus buildings, should they need to respond to an incident.
The district has a contract with the city of Farmington for seven school resource officers, and there are currently six assigned, according to police spokeswoman Georgette Allen. The department is working to fill the vacant position.
For the new plan, Allen said uniformed officers of all ranks, including Police Chief Steve Hebbe, will make unannounced walk-through visits in and around campuses while school is in session.
The plan was discussed in a meeting earlier this week with representatives of Farmington schools and police to increase safety for students and staff members.
There will be some overtime authorized for officers two days a week as part of the plan.
Citizens should not be alarmed if they see multiple patrol vehicles in school parking lots at once during the unscheduled visits, Allen said.
Farmington police arrested the teenage girl Thursday after identifying her as a suspect in an online threat made to the middle school.
The girl was taken into custody at approximately 2:40 p.m. Thursday and transported to the San Juan County Juvenile Detention Center, according to a press release from the Farmington Police Department.
She is being charged with interference with the educational process and public nuisance, and is accused of making a threat that targeted Tibbetts Middle School in Farmington and was posted on social media on Tuesday.
It claimed that an individual and friends were going to shoot up the school Wednesday or Thursday. Farmington police were alerted to the threat and began to investigate it, and they quickly identified the 14-year-old as the suspect, the release states.
The police presence at Farmington schools was increased this week during the investigation.
Hebbe thanked members of the public for their assistance in making the threat known.
"This case is a testament to the strong partnership between law enforcement and our community," he said in the release. "The number of citizens who reported this threat was overwhelming. We commend you for stepping up and making a report."
The San Juan County Sheriff's Office is working on a countywide prevention plan following the recent increase in school threats.
A statement by the Sheriff's Office states the plan is being discussed with community partners. Once it is approved, a public meeting will be held to discuss the short- and long-term plans.
Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at email@example.com.