Police looking for information following threat at Beck Middle School

In the days following the event, police said they are looking for any tips related to the threat.

For about three hours last Wednesday, students and staff at Beck Middle School were on lockdown after an anonymous threat was made against the school.

Shortly after 11 a.m. last Wednesday, Cherry Hill Police and other law enforcement agencies responded to Beck after school officials said it had received an anonymous threat.

In a letter to the community, Beck Principal Sidney Dawson said the school received an anonymous phone call shortly before 11 a.m. The caller reportedly made a threat against the school, causing administrators to initiate a lockdown and immediately inform law enforcement personnel.

Dozens of police officers converged on the school and did a sweep through the building. Shortly after 2 p.m., police declared the building clear and determined there was no immediate threat. The lockdown was released, and students were dismissed at the normal time of 3 p.m.

School officials kept community members updated on the events as they transpired during the day. Superintendent Joe Meloche filmed multiple videos updating the community during the afternoon. Shortly after the lockdown was lifted, Meloche posted a video stating all students and staff were safe and secure.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the men and women of the Cherry Hill Police Department as well as the other law enforcement agencies in South Jersey who participated in this work today,” Meloche said in the video.

Numerous parents stood near the school during the lockdown. Police and school officials urged parents not to travel to the school during the lockdown. In addition, once the lockout was lifted, Meloche asked parents to allow any kids who ride the bus home to take the bus and to not pick up their kids at school as police continued their investigation.

Monaghan said it is important for parents and other members of the public to stay away from an investigation scene during an incident such as last Wednesday’s at Beck, saying the police department is forced to divert officers outside the building to keep members of the public at a distance.

“We need to deal with the situation at hand, which is making sure the students are safe and the school staff are safe,” Monaghan said.

Monaghan added cars parked near the school could potentially block road access for emergency vehicles, slowing down response times.

Instead of going to the scene of the incident, Monaghan said parents should instead stay tuned to the police department and school district’s social media accounts, emails and other information sources for up-to-date news.

During the event, pictures were also seen on social media of the students sitting inside the gym. Monaghan said these photos could pose a security risk.

“We’re making a decision to move them to a secure location, and then the children are broadcasting that information to where they are going,” Monaghan said.

“We’re not telling people where we’re moving kids for a reason,” he added.

All after-school activities, clubs and athletic practices were cancelled at Beck last Wednesday, and the school’s high school information program was re-scheduled for Jan. 9.

School opened at its normal time of 8:30 a.m. the following day, with an additional police presence inside the building. The school also made additional guidance counselors available for anyone needing assistance.

Beck was not the only school in New Jersey to receive a threat last Wednesday. Threats were also issued against schools in Jackson, Lacey, Rumson and Marlboro.

Monaghan said the police department is still investigating the incident at Beck, but right now there is nothing to confirm the threat was related to the cases at the other four New Jersey schools.

Cherry Hill Police are asking for the public’s assistance in their investigation. Any community members with information on the incident are asked to call the Cherry Hill Police Department’s investigative unit at (856) 488–7833. Anonymous tips can also be sent to tips@cherryhillpolice.com.