Choosing to be proactive, a pair of Escalon Police officers spent most of their work day rotating around to the school campuses in the city on Friday, Dec. 17. On the heels of a TikTok challenge that reportedly suggested a school shooting – the challenge that was a nationwide buzz on Friday saw the officers quickly respond.
“It was Officers Travis Sharp and Andy Halvorson, under Sgt. (Anthony) Hardgraves,” explained Escalon Police Chief Rob Lackey. “They took their own initiative; they were on top of it.”
Lackey said while there didn’t appear to be any imminent danger on Escalon campuses as a result of the challenge, a previous one involving bathroom vandalism did cause some trouble so they wanted to be in place to address any concerns on Friday.
Escalon High School, El Portal Middle School and Dent Elementary saw regular patrols by the officers, doing security checks on each campus throughout the school day.
“They were pretty much there all day,” added Lackey, noting that the challenge was a ‘veiled, vague threat’ but they erred on the side of caution and made sure there were no problems.
A couple of parents, in fact, had contacted the police department early Friday morning expressing concerns about the TikTok post.
The chief said Sharp and Halvorson “found a way to show presence” and it was an effective effort.
“This wasn’t just statewide, it was national,” Lackey explained of the concerns over the post and said he equates use of the social media platform for posting the threat as terrorism.
“That’s what it is, basically,” he summed up.
Newly appointed Escalon City Councilman Andy Hagan was also appreciative of the response.
“They had units in position right away at all campuses and looked over the safety of our kids as if they were their own kids,” Hagan said. “Our local police truly care about our community and you could see it from their urgent response to duty.”