Police agencies world-wide turn to Miami-Dade Schools for social media monitoring tips

Campus Shield grant is $4.6 million grant awarded only to Miami-Dade Schools

By Erica Rakow - Reporter

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. - Be it  violent imagery of clowns, or a Facebook status, school officials around the country are trying to figure how to deal with threats made on social media.

However, Miami-Dade Schools police are already steps ahead in tracking these threats by using Campus Shield,  which is a $4.6 million grant awarded only to Miami-Dade Schools to create a platform that makes schools safer.

Miami-Dade Schools police work to track down threats in conjunction with local governments, local police and state and federal agencies.

"Before, it might take us some time to find out who was the author of the particular tweet or the retweet," Major Carlos Fernandez, said. "Now, we can immediately delve in and find out who exactly was the author and where did it come from and where does the student go to school so before school begins the next day. Our hope is that we've addressed the situation."

Officers can tap into cameras placed around schools remotely and can even access them through their smart phones.

Social media is also monitored 24/7 by using key words that help track down topics of concern immediately.

So what happens when a threat is found?

"We had a call that came in from a parent that gave us an actual snapshot, a picture screen of the threat OK, and I got it, I sent it to the investigators, in one hour, they were knocking on the door talking to the parent making sure that child did not have a weapon and did not have any intent to go to the school the next day," Chief Ian Moffett said. 

School police often find a minor, not thinking about the consequences, behind the threats.

Campus Shield also includes a mental health component.

"Many times, we find out that the threat is not viable, there's something else going on in the home, and then we're able to provide that information to the parents, to the counselor, to the principal to follow up, because that child is calling for help," Moffett said. "I feel safe that if they were to see something, they would definitely act on it."

Police agencies from around the world are now turning to Miami-Dade Schools police for training and advice on how to deal with digital disruptions.

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