Former detective, psychiatrist weigh in following false report of shooting at Jefferson High School

Distrust in law enforcement stems from failures in Uvalde, according to a psychiatrist and former detective

SAN ANTONIO – Emotions ran high at Jefferson High School as parents rushed officers, with one parent even breaking a window trying to get in.

This threat came only two weeks after New Braunfels High School families swarmed its campus. Both school threats were deemed not credible by authorities.

Psychiatrist Doctor Harry Croft believes parents’ reactions stem from a lack of faith in law enforcement to keep students safe. Dr. Croft explained that the concerns have been building for a few years. Croft noted that the Robb Elementary shooting may be one of the most horrific tragedies in recent history.

KSAT showed Dr. Croft videos of parents at Jefferson High School Tuesday afternoon, getting his reaction.

“What you see there is anxiety, fear frustration, but it’s piled on top of a lot of anger; you can hear the anger. The anger comes from the distrust,” said Dr. Croft

A former detective, Michael Helle, expressed concerns that parents’ reactions at school threat response will become the new normal. Helle said officers will have another stressor to each response, keeping people safe, verifying if a threat is legitimate, and trying to keep parents calm.

Helle fears if this continues, a potential tragedy could be officers mistaking a parent for a threat.

“They need to figure out who the bad guys are and who the good guys are. The worst thing to have happen is a parent that is a licensed carry and they (police) don’t know who this person is, all they know is they have a somebody with a gun, and all of the sudden boom here we see somebody with a gun,” said Helle.

Both psychiatrist and the former detective said communication is critical for those in charge. They stated that getting accurate information out as soon as possible can ease tensions and stop emotions from boiling over.

Dr. Croft added that for parents, it’s more complicated. He told us that officials need to find a way to rebuild trust with parents and that it won’t happen overnight. Dr. Croft added parents also need to have deep discussions with authorities.

“The more we discuss this and bring it out in the open, including our own frustration and our own anger little by little we’ll learn more and more way to cope” said Dr. Croft.

Helle says that law enforcement needs a new response plan to school threats. One that will let them handle a potential threat, and parents who lack faith in law enforcement and will keep students safe.

“If we don’t have good plan in place then something bad is really going to happen. I god bless everyone that is still there that’s still doing the job because it is immensely a lot more difficult than when I was there” said Helle.


About the Author:

John Paul Barajas is a reporter at KSAT 12. Previously, he worked at KRGV 5 in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a degree from the University of Houston. In his free time, he likes to get a workout in, spend time on the water and check out good eats and drinks.