Whitehouse PD, ISD change press release policy after 'misunderst - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Whitehouse PD, ISD change press release policy after 'misunderstanding'

WHITEHOUSE, TX (KLTV) -

The Whitehouse Police Department sent KLTV and other local media outlets a press release earlier Wednesday promising extra security at Whitehouse schools Friday in light of last Friday's shootings in Connecticut and because of drama surrounding the Mayan calendar.

However, officers sent that release before consulting with school officials, who say there have been no threats at any of the seven campuses.

Both sides call the situation a "misunderstanding."

Whitehouse Police Chief Craig Shelton said Wednesday's press release informing the media of extra security on Whitehouse ISD campuses this Friday should have remained an inter-office email.

"We at the Whitehouse Police Department take the security of our students and of our teachers very seriously," said Police Chief Craig Shelton. "That's our main objection is to protect them. At no time did we intend for this to get out to the news media that because of all the recent events, the Whitehouse Independent School District planned to close Friday."

Whitehouse ISD administration was not aware the department was planning to have officers stationed at every campus Friday, but said they welcome their presence any time they feel additional security is needed.

"We have had no threats at Whitehouse ISD. We have had Friday set as an early release day set for over a year and it's just a typical early release prior to a holiday break," said Whitehouse ISD superintendent Daniel DuPree.

The press release was released by Captain Steve Henry and said in part, "Due to recent incidents in and around Smith County and social media discussion of possible threats of violence Friday, the Whitehouse Police Department will have law enforcement officers stationed that morning on every campus in the morning and during early release. ... Threats of violence aren't new to campuses but we are taking extra precautions at this time in light of the Newtown shootings and drama surrounding the Mayan prediction of the end of the earth on December 21st."

Because of this release, a new policy will be implemented about how parents receive Whitehouse ISD information.

"Our new policy is anything related to the schools will come out through the school administration, through the superintendent, not through the police department," said Shelton.

School administrators said they issued an "Alert Now" call to more than 4,000 homes, letting parents know that there were no threats to safety or changes to their planned early release on Friday.


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