Threat investigations are more common than you may think

Sioux Falls, SD (KSFY) On Wednesday, just hours before the deadly school shooting in Florida a Sioux Falls employee told KSFY his co-worker threatened to go on a shooting spree inside their office.

“It’s more common than I would expect,” Sioux Merchant Patrol Security Services President Jesse Callahan said.

Callahan said his company has been called in to help with four similar workplace threats throughout Sioux Falls in just two months.

“You’ve got to take it seriously, because you just never know. Especially when people are in a moment where they have emotional distress when they outwardly say those types of things or when they might take action,” Callahan said.

He’s says that’s why any kind of threat should immediately be reported to police.

“That's one of the things that we always take serious and we always investigate to see what kind of threat it is and if there's any kind of credibility behind it,” Sioux Falls Police Officer Sam Clemens said.

But Clemens says what happens after those threats are made varies.

“There is a chance there could be criminal charges,” Clemens said.

If the threat or actions made could warrant a charge for making terroristic threats or some kind of assault charge. But Clemens says it’s also possible no arrest will be made.

“We've seen cases where people are just spouting off, blowing off steam, they make comments in the heat of the moment and don't think about the implications of making those comments,” Clemens said.

“Everybody still has the right to their freedom and if they're not taking any actions that are harmful or illegal, you can't just lock somebody up because they scared someone,” Callahan said.

However, the fears of when or if someone who makes a threat might take action are very real.

“You're trying to get inside somebody's head and it’s pretty impossible to predict what they're going to do in the future,” Clemens said.

“The vast majority of the threats end up not being something where someone takes action,” Callahan said. “The majority of people, once cooler heads prevail, they're able to make better, rational decisions; we just never know what type of mind frame someone might be in and what capabilities they have.”

There are also some instances where someone who makes a threat will be evaluated by mental health professionals, but Clemens said that’s also on a case-by-case basis.

In the recent cases where Sioux Merchant Patrol was called in to help with a workplace threat, they immediately took steps to make sure the building is secure and in some cases even monitor who is coming and going from the building.

Callahan said companies and individuals should utilize security services whenever there's a specific threat and you know you're the target and you have enough information to try and prevent it from happening.