UPDATE: Oak Forest Students Safe after Police Debunk Suspicious Voicemail

Police have investigated a voicemail left at Arbor Park District 145 district offices, which staff initially perceived as threatening, and determined there is no threat to local students, Oak Forest Police said.

No local students were in immediate danger, but police erred on the side of caution while investigating a voicemail initially perceived as threatening, left at district offices Friday just after 8 a.m. 

The voicemail contained material that was interpretted as threatening, but it was determined that the message was left in error, said Dominic D'Ambrosio. The caller believed the call had ended at the time of the statement and the conversation recorded took place in the background of the phone call, D'Ambrosio said. 

District 145 Superintendent Allen Jebens expanded on D'Ambrosio's comments further.

"The individual thought that the phone was hung up and was having a conversation with someone else in the background and didn't know they were being recorded," Jebens said.

Jebens said that police did make contact with the caller, and quickly realized there was never any threat.

"Police made contact with the individual and realized that there was nothing ever directed at the schools, the students or the staff," Jebens said. "In fact, even as concerned as we were initially, there was never anything directed at us. It was just some random statements that we wanted someone else to listen to."

Staff alerted police to the message as a precautionary measure, he said. Jebens said that he called all of the Arbor Park School District schools individually and asked that students be moved or kept inside as a precaution while police looked into the matter.  parents were alarmed to hear students were swiftly moved inside by police order. 

"We didn't go into a lock-down mode," Jebens said. "We just simply said, 'Keep the kids in until we get this thing resolved.' We certainly suspected that there wasn't much here, but we just wanted to be cautious. Just to be safe, you know we have a lot of little ones here."

He added that a letter further explaining the situation will be sent home with students today. Also, the same letter will be sent out via email. It can also be found attached to this article.

"Everybody reacted correctly," D'Ambrosio said. "With the information we had, it was determined there was no threat.

"There were never any students in danger."

There will be no criminal investigation.

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Brian September 14, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Let me start this comment off again by praising Lauren, Nick, Jeff, and all the others who put their ear to the ground to bring us the important stories that might get lost in the shuffle. Your interaction after the story hits the presses, also shows of your dedication to your profession. That being said, this story left out allot of informational specifics that I think should be shared. Whether this was the police being tight lipped, or a rush to get the story out, details should be known. Just because something bad didn't happen, doesn't mean the details aren't newsworthy.
Lauren Traut September 14, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Hi, Brian. I appreciate the compliment, and let me do my best to explain. Because there is no investigation, and because it was, essentially, determined to be a false alarm, Deputy Police Chief D'Ambrosio would not disclose specifics. There is no investigation, and from what I understand, no charges will be filed against the caller. What kinds of details are you looking for? I don't believe the police will disclose the content of the message, because the caller did not intend for it to be part of the message to begin with. I will reach out to Deputy Chief D'Ambrosio again, but in my opinion, the most important questions—what prompted the police to move children indoors, are children in danger, and what police action has been taken—have been answered. Lauren
Brian September 14, 2012 at 07:25 PM
I'm having a tough time of thinking of what exactly I would ask you do other than pressing for specifics. Its really hard to say what I am looking for, since such little information was shared with you to begin with. I guess it comes off as a bit obfuscatory in general. I don't really think its necessary to call back the Deputy Chief per say, but just wanted to make it known that I think more should be shared with the public on incidents like these. Communication and Transparency go along way with the public, and the desire to not alarm the public should be tempered with the fact of openness is the best course of action. It just would be helpful to know what statement verbatim would cause a response like this.
Lauren Traut September 14, 2012 at 07:30 PM
Thanks, Brian. I understand where you're coming from. We've updated the story with a statement from Superintendent Jebens, who also declined to disclose the specifics of the message. Both police and administrators have declined to expand on the content of the voicemail.
Baba Wawa September 14, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Nothing to see here...move along....


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