NEW YORK - Police on Long Island are sounding the alarm over school hoax threats going viral on social media.
"You take a stock photo of a weapon," said Patrick Ryder, commissioner of the Nassau County Police Department. "Put that under a post and write you’re going to shoot up a school. It goes from town to town and state to state."
And sometimes according to Nassau County Police - their origin is not even close to here.
"We had one tracked back to Virginia," Ryder said.
But the act of reposting actually does more harm than good according to Ryder, who hopes to raise awareness about a growing trend in social media threats and the spread of false information.
"Please stop reposting, call 911," he said.
These social media screenshots prompted an increase in security last week in the Hicksville school district when police say it was actually directed at out of state campuses and this isn’t the only local case.
"A 12-year-old girl took the internet and sent something out that shut a school district down for three days," Ryder said.
And nationally there’s a video circulating on TikTok threatening guns and shooting in schools on Friday. Law enforcement officials at this time are calling it non-credible and say it’s possible the threats originated from a challenge to skip school.
"Every school district has a homeland security officer assigned to them, working with them and going over drills and policies," said superintendent Dr. Joseph Famularo, Superintendent with the Bellmore School District.
According to Nassau police from September to December there’s been 102 school complaints - that number is up 25-percent from 2019. Each time a calls come in, the department diverts resources from investigating other crimes and it disrupts the learning process. Officials do say there are serious consequences for anyone initiating these threats.