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School, RPD cooperated on 'end of the world' worries

Feb 5, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

School officials are thanking the Riverton Police Department for helping to ensure student safety in the face of unsubstantiated rumors.

Fremont County School District 25 Superintendent Terry Snyder said administrators at Riverton's middle and high schools contacted him Dec. 20 with concerns about "student fear and in some cases nervousness" regarding the potential for danger Dec. 21.

People throughout the country predicted the world would end Dec. 21, and others were generally wary of the day in the wake of school shootings in Casper and Connecticut that month.

"There were rumors out there," Snyder said.

District staff investigated the rumors, but Snyder said they found no evidence that anything criminal was being planned within the district.

"We found no written threat, we heard no verbal threat, we had no recordings of a threat," Snyder said. "There was no first-hand information ... that something was going to happen. So we chose to have school."

Riverton administrators did not ignore the concerns of their students and staff, however: Snyder said he called the RPD to request that at least one police officer be stationed at each school building Dec. 21.

"I believed if we had a police presence that would help deter anybody if they were even going to think about (doing something)," Snyder said. "We wanted to make sure we had the safety of our kids taken care of on that day. (And) we wanted to make sure our students understand this isn't a joke."

He said he was grateful for the response of RPD chief Mike Broadhead, who took the situation seriously.

"He had every officer available assigned to schools," Snyder said. "The RPD truly went above and beyond what we asked for."

Their efforts did not go unnoticed, Snyder added.

"We had a lot of kids come up and thank (the police) for being there," he said. "It made them feel safer. And we received e-mails from parents who said they recognized the police presence and appreciated our concern for the kids."

Hundreds of districts throughout the country didn't have school Dec. 21, but Snyder said he was comfortable with the level of precaution taken in Riverton.

"You never know what the right decision is, but I believe we did our due diligence checking all the possibilities," Snyder said. "I also believe we can't live in fear. I don't think it's appropriate for people who want to create fear to be successful on that day."

Administrators at Central Wyoming College also took precautions Dec. 21, when they canceled an RHS event scheduled to take place at the CWC campus. The event was rescheduled and took place Jan. 8.

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