U.S. attorney vows crackdown on school threats
U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider joined local law enforcement officials Tuesday in promising to pursue and prosecute students and others who make threats against schools.
“Law enforcement is united in this effort,” Schneider said Tuesday during a news conference at his office in downtown Detroit, where he was joined by state, county and local law enforcement officials. “We take every single threat seriously and we are vigorously investigating and prosecuting anybody who threatens our schools.”
Schneider added: “You have no idea what the consequences are of your actions and I’m not just talking about the legal consequences. When you make a threat, this is going to change your life forever because you can get expelled from school, you could lose your opportunities for college .... you could lose employment opportunities in the future.”
Schneider issued a stern warning: “We’re going to find out who you are.”
Michigan schools have been forced to deal with a spike of violent threats since a former student shot and killed 17 people Feb. 14 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
In the month after the massacre, Michigan had 83 threats against schools, the third-highest total in the nation, according to the Educator’s School Safety Network, a national nonprofit that tracks and studies threats of violence in U.S. schools.
Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith said his county “has been hit like no other jurisdiction” with 51 people charged with school threats since the Parkland massacre.
Smith said the threats take valuable resources away from law enforcement working on other cases.
“Every time this happens, law enforcement has to stop everything to make sure our kids are safe” he said.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig said his department has investigated 50 school threats at 25 of the city’s schools since mid-February. Craig said 57 people have been questioned, three firearms were seized and 20 search warrants were executed. He said the threats are starting to decline but have put a strain on his department.
“Some of these young people making these threats think that they can outsmart law enforcement,” Craig said. “It’s not happening. If you say something or are going to do something, you can’t hide from us.”
Lt. Michael Shaw, a Michigan State Police spokesman, encouraged parents to make sure they “know what (their children) are doing on social media.”
Shaw reminded school officials to make sure their buildings are secure with doors locked.
Schneider said his office is preparing a Powerpoint program that schools can present to their staff and students about the consequences of making threats.