See something? Protect community by saying something

Once again our country is reeling from a horrific event — the mass shooting at a Florida school on Feb. 14 — and people have once again stood up and took notice.

People are outraged, and all kinds of changes or solutions are being suggested to prevent something like this from happening again. In time, the hysteria and outrage will subside, and we’ll go back to our reactive state of mind. It’s a regular cycle how we quickly forget and all of our energy and good intentions fade away — at least until the next time.

Maybe we should use some of this time to reflect on what we’ve already done, or haven’t done, to keep ourselves safer and correct some of the mistakes we have made in the past. The mass shooting perpetrated by the disturbed individual at the Florida high school is another wake-up call for all of us to not only learn from, but for us to not return to sleep mode.

Law enforcement, government agencies, legislatures, mental health services and the public all need to work together and be more vigilant in efforts to preventing these incidents.

I will not go as far as to say that it could have been prevented, but then again, maybe it could have. In the Florida case there were plenty of warning signs or red flags which were overlooked or underestimated. There was a lack of intervention, security breakdowns, lack of communication, and a misinterpretation of the potential threat.

I am usually not one to “armchair quarterback,” but I truly feel these factors came into play and should have been addressed prior to this unfolding.

If we see alarming or concerning behaviors, red flags, or are privy to information that could be very important in such matters, we need to speak up. Don’t second-guess yourself and sit on the information. Report it as soon as possible.

You may have heard of “if you see something, say something.” There are many avenues to do this: Calling 911, any police department, federal agencies, mental health facilities, etc. Reports can be made online or by text as well.

Many schools also have the OK2SAY program, which gives several different ways to report an issue. Some schools have their own systems for reporting, which would give someone a chance to intervene before it’s too late.

People in our communities are a key factor in funneling information to agencies that are trained and equipped to intervene.

The attention the media gives to the monsters who commit these acts is flatly wrong and does not help matters. There is no reason to post their picture, name, or their whole miserable life history. In the twisted minds of some, this is glorification and is something they seek. We should not give them the satisfaction.

In dealing with some “threats” made locally, usually school-related, we’ve found social media is not our friend. Individuals spreading rumors or putting in their “two cents” without knowing the facts are causing a great deal of commotion.

Misinformation is rapidly spread and is creating distrust and disruption to officials who are actually dealing with the incident. Law enforcement tries to work closely with news outlets, but there are times when we simply cannot give out all of the information they are asking for — whether it’s the legalities of the case, the fact that further investigation is pending or just simply in very poor taste to divulge. In my opinion, the more hype given to a threat or rumor of a threat, is counterproductive and only promotes copycats.

Matt Djerf is the community service trooper for the Michigan State Police-Calumet Post.