L.A. Schools canceled due to threats

_MG_6255In what is probably an unprecedented move, the Los Angeles Unified School District today decided to cancel all classes in response to information received last night. While not much information is being released, it would be safe to assume that:

  • The decision to cancel school by LAUSD was a difficult one that had to be made under time pressure.
  • School officials had to consider the psychological effects of closing (or not closing) school, the logistics of business operations as well as the possibility of encouraging copycat attacks.
  • The decision to cancel school was almost certainly a last resort, since other options are available for responding to this type of threat. These options would include an elevated police presence at all schools, a search of all schools while they are still in session or other measures adapted to the situation.

This incident also brings to question the balance that we must always seek between security and maintaining our mission of education. A few past incidents come to mind that demonstrate the complex and difficult decisions that must be made when responding to threats:


For more information on the nuances of bomb threat management and response to these types of threats, download “Bomb Threat Basics” by Michael Dorn.

9 Killed in Umpqua Community College shooting in Roseburg, Oregon


While not much information is available at this point about the Umpqua Community College Shooting, news reports show that the shooter is now deceased and 9 were killed in the attack. The investigation is ongoing. Response personnel on the scene report that the shooting took place in multiple classrooms, that the campus went on lockdown based on individual initiative (and others evacuated) and was then searched and cleared.

Umpqua Community College is a public university in a mid-sized town with approximately 3,000 students. It is located along the I-5 Interstate Corridor in southern Oregon.

New resource: Hashtag Standards for Social Media in Emergency Response

I wanted to make a quick post to highlight a new document we just added to the document database titled “Hashtag Standards for Emergencies” created by a division of the United Nations. This document deals with the use of social media for emergency response and is not intended to dictate standards but to provide some guidelines and spark conversation on how you should use hashtags for your organization and in collaboration with other agencies during emergencies and crisis events. With the growing use of Twitter, Facebook and other social media tools during a crisis, it is critical to incorporate these methods of notification during your response to a crisis. We have seen these tools use for a variety of uses like information about shelter locations and other resources after major crisis events and interactive maps have been used during wildfires and other quickly evolving crises.  It is also important to remember that while we can attempt to direct the social media conversation, the nature of these media mean that it is impossible to control what direction the conversation will lead. This means that it is important to stay adaptable and be ready to use new hashtags as the situation evolves and the conversation takes on a life of its own.

For example, Hurricane Sandy generated hundreds of hashtags, some chosen by authorities and others chosen by social media users on the fly. Several hashtags were used by various agencies until the most effective and salient terms were narrowed down and used to spread various types of information. One example in the UN document is Tropical Storm Fay, in which response agencies directed Twitter users to use a variety of hashtags for specific purposes, including #Fay to tweet general information about the storm, #PublicRep to report damage to infrastructure, and #911US to report emergencies or evacuation needs. Providing guidance to the public on which hashtags to use, and asking them to enable GPS locations on their tweets to help locating victims and other response locations, can be very helpful. For more information, download the entire document here:

Enrollment key: shi-docs

About the Safe Havens Document Database:

As part of our ongoing effort to provide free resources and information, Safe Havens International has created a Document Database where you can log in and download documents from a variety of sources, including the United States Department of Education, the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice, the American Red Cross, the United Nations, and other entities. We also include documents and resources from vendors and other organizations from time to time. Of course you can download all of our Safe Havens International resources from this location as well.