The cost and consequences of a fake school threat
KENNEWICK, Wash. – Ki-Be, Kennewick High, and Pasco High are just a some of the schools that received startling shooting threats in the last few weeks.
Police share how these often-fake threats are having serious consequences.
“Please do not make these threats,” Kennewick Officer Aaron Hamel said. “It's not worth it, it's not funny. No one's laughing.”
It was just a joke--that's the excuse police said has been behind several recent school threats, including a hand-written note found at Park Middle School in Kennewick this week.
“One of the hardest things to do is look at a teenager in the eye who thinks he was trying to be funny,” Hamel said. “They don't see the overall picture of what we see.”
The big picture some teens aren't seeing, police said, is the time and resources being wasted to investigate a fake threat.
“It is all hands on deck,” he said. “And we're pulled from everything else that we're doing, at that moment, nothing else matters.”
Officers said they take every threat seriously, and when it turns out to be fake, they have to play catch-up on what they missed in the meantime.
“And making a lot of apologies to people in the community for not investigating what they needed at the time,” Hamel said.
Police said a lot of these threats are being posted on social media and shared through several people, so everyone needs to be more careful about what they say online.
“Things like ‘shooting’, ‘bombing,’ it needs to be completely eliminated from your conversation,” Hamel said.
Police are also asking parents to talk to their kids and help them understand the consequences of making a threat--even if it's a joke.
“Whenever there's a threat made, it kind of shakes parents, community, everyone to their core. And that's something that does not rebuild quickly,” he said.
Police said any threat--whether it's a joke or not--could end in criminal charges and school expulsion.