NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — More than a dozen schools across Tennessee were impacted by “hoax” threats Wednesday, which wasted law enforcement resources and had the potential to cause lasting trauma, according to an expert.
Rossview High School in Clarksville, Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School in Nashville, Columbia Central High School in Maury County, and Hardin County High School in Savannah were just a few of the schools affected. The rest were located in East Tennessee.
Mac Hardy, director of operations for the National Association of School Resource Officers (SROs), told News 2 these fake calls — known as “swatting” — tend to come in clusters, like they did in the Volunteer State on Wednesday, May 3.
There have been instances where the voice on the other end of the call making the threat wasn’t real, but instead, was created using artificial intelligence, according to Hardy.
“It sounds digital, but it almost sounds real, the voice does that it’s coming from, and I think they’re just random calls, and they do them in clusters in areas to cause even more fear and more stress on the resources and community,” Hardy said.
It’s unclear whether Wednesday’s calls in Tennessee were A.I. generated. The goal of the swatting also remains a mystery.
“I’ve often heard, ‘Are they testing our resources, our responses? Is it just to cause trauma and fear to people?’ And that one may be the most logical reason,” Hardy said.
The former SRO added swatting situations not only traumatize some students and staff permanently, but they also put the community in danger because they take up a lot of law enforcement resources.
“Now you have all these police officers rushing to a scene, they have their lights and sirens going,” Hardy said. “We have seen in Georgia where an officer was injured going to one of these scenes… It’s a community hazard, and the dangers, the trauma to the mental health of students and staff is great.”
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The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is working with state and federal partners to determine the source(s) of Wednesday’s swatting calls.