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Police debunk reports of stranger near Fairview Elementary in Modesto

Modesto school security scare was misunderstanding, police now say
Modesto school security scare was misunderstanding, police now say 02:26

MODESTO -- Reports of a stranger talking to kids near Modesto's Fairview Elementary were actually a family member trying to track down a child, according to Modesto Police.

Modesto City Schools reported Thursday about working with the Modesto Police Department following a report of a man trying to talk with students through a fence on the backside of Fairview Elementary School.  

"During lunch today, yard duty staff saw a man in a grey hooded sweatshirt and dark pants or shorts standing on the other side of the fence from the playing field. They said the man was gesturing to students on the blacktop to walk across the field to talk with him. Campus supervision immediately intervened. When the man saw that yard duty staff was involved, he quickly walked away."  

School administrators contacted the Modesto Police Department and school security. When they arrived, they quickly searched the area, but the man was no longer in the area. In response, law enforcement officers and school security continued to patrol the area around the school. 

Friday morning, Fairview Elementary School received a report of a suspicious man jumping the fence at Fairview Park and entering an orchard that connects to the property on the school's backside. School administrators called the Modesto Police and school security to investigate, and a precautionary lockdown was issued at 9:48 a.m. 

After police and security arrived quickly and searched the area, officers did not locate the person again. Students and staff were deemed safe, and the lockdown was lifted at 10:30 a.m. 

After an investigation, Modesto Police announced Friday afternoon that the two incidents reported were actually a family member attempting to locate a child. However, the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department is investigating the additional three incidents.

National School Safety and Security expert Dr. Ken Trump, who specializes in school security and emergency preparedness training, among other expertise, says parents have a great deal of concern regarding the safety of their kids in school across the US.

"Parents are facing the highest time of anxiety, ambiguity, and uncertainty around school safety that I've seen in more than 30 years, said Dr. Trump and advised parents to continue talking with their kids about safety.  

"You're not going talk to the kindergarten and first graders the same way you may talk to someone at fourth, fifth, or 12th grade. As a parent, you want to ensure that they know that adults are at home and the school, who are doing things to keep their school and children safe."

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