Stoneman Douglas safety commission working to combat rise in school threats

Efforts underway to make verbal shooting threats against schools a crime

By Terrell Forney - Reporter

CHAMPIONSGATE, Fla. - School disturbances on campuses, whether by total strangers or those familiar to students, are becoming far too normal.

That is according to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Safety Commission.  

"The incidents are going to happen, there's no question they’re going to happen," said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri. "The question is, do we have the right procedures, the right mechanisms, policies, etc. in place to catch them and deal with them effectively."

The commission, formed after the Parkland mass shooting in February 2018, is still working to reduce vulnerabilities in school safety and response tactics. 

In a newly released report, the panel outlines the confusion and ineffective communication between law enforcement and families of MSD victims during the death notification process. 

Additionally, the report shows how the Broward County school system was inadequately prepared to assist officers in those tense moments. 

The rise in school threats remains one of the biggest issues the commission is working to remedy. 

Most of the kids arrested for recent threats claimed they were joking, so they're given strict court-mandated counseling. 

"If you call the school and say that you are going to blow up the school, well that's a crime because you're threatening a place with a bomb," said Gualtieri. "But if you called the school today and said 'I'm gonna shoot it up,' that's not a crime, so that's going to be our recommendation to the legislature, to future modify the statute to include verbal threats."

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