Polk deputies investigate verbal, social media threats 24/7

The Polk County sheriff says his office is expanding its real-time crime detection center to analyze non-urgent threats as they come in, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

"Until we prove, 'that is just a child running off at the mouth,' it's a real threat," Sheriff Grady Judd explained. "We respond 24-7 now."

The start of the school year now means potential, but non-urgent threats will be investigated outside business normal hours. Deputies will also comb social media, nonstop.

"No longer can we say, 'Ah, that's just children saying ugly children things,'" Judd said.

The sheriff discussed the center after a weekend of nationwide attention paid to the arrests of three would-be mass shooters, thanks to tips from the public.

Judd warned: Every strange remark, off comment, and distasteful joke about mass violence will be taken seriously.

"You know the difference in someone who is just mad and someone who is scary mad?" asked Judd. "It'll make the hair stand up on the back of your neck."

In Daytona Beach, Tristan Wix was arrested after his ex-girlfriend reported him for saying he had a location in mind to open fire and, "100 kills would be nice."

Also arrested this weekend were a 20-year-old in Ohio who posted on Instagram he wanted to kill Jews and a 22-year-old in Connecticut who posted on Facebook about carrying out a mass shooting. 

Judd says the key is none of the tipsters were in denial about what could happen.

"If this person is saying words but has not acted upon the words, and we can provide an intervention, that is a win for everybody," Judd said.

The sheriff says potential shooters often spout off to family members or those with whom they were once close. 

However, social media has created an environment where everyone is potentially a life-saving whistleblower.