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As law enforcement deal with threats made to schools, deputies appeal to adults

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. - As schools across the Tennessee Valley deal with threats and guns found on campus, law enforcement must respond to each and every incident as if it is a true emergency.

"It's our job. That's what we do," said Lt. Donny Shaw of the Madison County Sheriff's Office. "Whenever there's a threat, and we're called, and we take care of it."

He said that sometimes means supporting school resource officers with more deputies at the schools. That means law enforcement on patrol would be moved to focus on schools during the event. Shaw said while deputies will be off the road for that time, that doesn't necessarily mean that they can't cover the other problems in Madison County.

"Sure, we have a lot of assets and a lot of resources in one place, but we have mutual aid agreements with federal, state, and other local agencies. If something is happening while we're taking care of a threat in one area, we have other resources," he explained.

Shaw is one of many law enforcement officers calling for the threats of violence or other concerning messages regarding schools to stop. He said it's not frustrating as a deputy, but as a father, and the effects of such actions are far-reaching.

"It's frustrating that it has to disrupt the normal process of the schools," he said. "That's just not fair to the community. It's not fair to our children."

Lt. Shaw said no overtime has been needed for deputies to respond to threats so far. Thankfully, no one has been hurt. But he still wants parents and adults who children may respect to explain to kids the real consequences of these actions.

"This is not good. It's misguided. There are repercussions for whenever you do these things. You could be charged with a felony," he explained.  Charges can include "making a terroristic threat" or "making a false report."

Law enforcement officers say even though threats have become more common recently, they don't want you to normalize them. Shaw encourages people to still report things if you're concerned about them. They want to hear about it, whether you think it's credible or not.

"It can't be normal. We can't just accept it as normal when it comes to school threats," he stated. "We have to always take them seriously. We're dealing with our future, we're dealing with our children."

If there is something you need to report, Shaw urges you to call your local law enforcement or 911. Simply sending a Facebook message to authorities is not fast enough to address problems, he explained.

"We need to have that information as early as possible so we can start working on it," he said.