On Dec. 2, the Blythe Police Department (BPD) was alerted to an unfounded and untrue social media rumor that sparked concerns across Palo Verde Valley schools and the community at-large on local online networking platforms.
Later that same afternoon, BPD issued the following update on the agency’s official social media page:
“Let me assure you that from the moment we saw the initial post, until it could be thoroughly investigated, my officers continued to follow-up on any information about the ‘Blythe Neighborhood Watch’ post. I can tell you that we were able to get to the source of the misinformation that was posted. The post was based on a total misunderstanding of information. There was never a threat to any of our local schools, or any school for that matter. I appreciate everyone’s concern and thank you for all your support. In the future, if anyone hears of or sees anything of concern please contact the Blythe Police Department directly at (760) 922-6111.”
Earlier Monday morning, the community was originally notified of the unfounded rumors that sparked the initial BPD investigation.
“(E)arlier this morning(, on Dec. 2,) it was brought to our attention that there had possibly been a shooting at one of our schools. This information came from Facebook ‘Blythe Neighborhood Watch.’ The information was received through a Snapchat post. (BPD) Lt. Walnoha contacted school administrators and no reports have been made of a school shooting, a possible school shooting, or any other suspicious activity,” stated BPD’s notice on Dec. 2. “Efforts are being made to obtain the identity of the original person who posted on Snapchat. If anyone knows the person who originally posted the Snapchat last night, please contact the Blythe Police Department at (760)-922-6111. As always there will be extra patrol at the schools and a more visible police presence.”
While local law enforcement officials laud certain aspects of social media in today’s world, responding officials also caution individuals and the community on the dangers of spreading false and/or unfounded information through the digital platforms.
Further, Palo Verde Unified School District (PVUSD) Public Information Officer (PIO) Cathyleen Rice offered the following statement on the matter:
“Palo Verde Unified School District does not tolerate or condone such behavior as some were led to believe a school shooting happened earlier today (Dec. 2). We are a zero-tolerance school district that uses visual law enforcement and other admin staff to ensure all of our campuses are safe work/educational environments. Likewise, all PVUSD students should be mindful of what he or she posts on social media, because even seemingly innocent posts can be perceived as threatening, which can result in severe punishment. No use of weapons, alcohol, drugs, or any act of disruptive behavior is permitted on our campus. Nonetheless, we are happy to have all of our students back from break and look forward to ending on a positive note.”
Monday also coincided with PVUSD students’ and teachers return from a week-long Thanksgiving break.