UPDATE: Ridgefield Park police early Wednesday said they'd found no concrete evidence that a district student told anyone of plans of violence against the high school.
"We've exhausted any leads we had, which were complete hearsay at best," Lt. Joseph Rella told Daily Voice. "We don't have something brewing under the surface."
He then issued a formal statement:
On Tuesday, June 12, 2018 the police department was alerted to a social media post about the possibility of school violence taking place at the Ridgefield Park Junior Senior High School. The police department immediately began to investigate the matter. Case detectives were able to identify the origin of the social media post as well the student who was at the center of this investigation.
The case detectives conducted a comprehensive and thorough investigation with the assistance of the administrative staff of the Ridgefield Park Junior Senior High School. The result of this investigation determined that a threat to the school community was never made and the concerns, although serious, were in fact nonexistent.
The Ridgefield Park Police Department would like to take this opportunity to thank the community for alerting us to the social media post and encourage the community to bring forth concerns as they arise in the future.
Ridgefield Park Junior-Senior High School Principal Eric Koenig thanked village police "for their diligence and attention to detail conducting this and all investigations involving school safety."
Koenig also cited "an increased police presence throughout the day to help ease any lingering fears that may exist for those coming into the building." (SEE the full text of his letter to parents below.)
The concern began with a Facebook post by parent Tai Rodriguez:
"A kid at Ridgefield Park High School just told my little sister[']s friend that he is going to shoot up the school during finals week, which is [Wednesday]. My mom called the friend to get his name and the girl said she doesn't want to get involved."
Police and school officials in this day and age have to take each and every report seriously.
So village police issued a brief alert saying that their department was "aware of the post regarding violence at RPHS and is actively investigating the matter."
There's an enormous difference, however, between a social media post and actual testimony or corroboration of something one person claimed another said.
Unfortunately, police said, the Facebook post and subsequent comments produced traditional media reports -- and left some parents believing that police had proof of a threat when they didn't.
Rodriguez remained adamant.
"My sister would not make up a story. She heard what she heard," she wrote in response to this story. "She made a statement stating what she heard. The words of an RP shooting were said and those are the facts. He said she said is the case with all cases and in this one, its always better to be safe than sorry. Take care."
Police officials said they will continue to take any and all extreme precautions to protect students and staff at all village schools.
Having devoted exhaustive manpower to the claim, however, they'd found no evidence of a credible threat.
In the meantime, they asked that anyone with direct information about the allegation to contact them: (201) 641-6400.
"This is a follow up to the message sent last night regarding an [I]nternet post that alleged a threat of violence against the junior-senior high school. The Ridgefield Park Police Department began investigating as soon as the post was made known, identifying and contacting the individuals who were allegedly involved. These individuals were all fully cooperative with the police throughout the investigation. Based on all evidence presented, the police have determined there is no credible threat to the safety of students or staff.
"School will be open at the regular time today and exams will proceed as scheduled. There will be an increased police presence throughout the day to help ease any lingering fears that may exist for those coming into the building.
"I want to thank Luitenant[Lieutenant] Joe Rella and the entire Ridgefield Park Police Department for their diligence and attention to detail conducting this and all investigations involving school safety. They certainly put me at ease coming to work each day."
Eric Koenig, Principal
Ridgefield Park Junior-Senior High School
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