Social media monitoring through fusion centers included in school safety plan

Posted at 9:31 PM, May 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-30 22:31:46-04

Part of the Governor Greg Abbott’s School and Firearm Safety Action Plan focuses on preventing threats in advance. One of his recommendations would put more focus on monitoring social media by increasing the number of fusion centers.

The centers are hubs where federal and state agencies can gather and share information about possible threats and criminal activity. In relation to his plan, Abbott said, "These fusion centers help to identify threats that appear on social media and will help law enforcement to intervene before violence occurs."

CCISD police have accomplished that in at least two instances. Back in the spring of 2017, a doctored photo captured on social media with a purported threat against Veterans Memorial High School led to the arrest of a student. Just last week, three King High School students were arrested when one of them posted a video to Instagram with the trio claiming they would carry out a shooting on campus. Those students were charged with making terroristic threats.

Realizing local resources can sometimes be limited, CCISD Police Chief Kirby Warnke embraces the idea of the state keeping a closer eye on social media.

"We were looking at some apps, some third-party programs, that do that sort of thing but they’re expensive," Warnke told KRIS 6 News. "If there’s another branch of government out there that’s monitoring social media as a primary function of their job, that helps us."

Chief Warnke says that would allow his officers to focus on the daily mission of keeping CCISD campuses safe, while still staying aware of any student or person who may be looking to cause harm.

"If they can provide us information before an incident occurs, we will definitely follow up on those leads and take immediate action," he affirmed.

Currently, there is a fusion center that covers the Corpus Christi area. It’s called the Southwest Texas Fusion Center. However, it’s based in San Antonio and is managed by that city’s police department.