Originally created 08/04/06

Bomb threats taken seriously



As school begins, some pupils can't wait to get out. A few even go to the extreme of calling in a bomb threat for an instructional reprieve.

Bomb threats in Columbia County schools rose by 600 percent in the 2005-06 school year compared to the previous year, according to Columbia County Sheriff's Office records.

Twelve bomb threats were made last school year, compared to only two in the 2004-05 year.

Four of the threats occurred on three consecutive days in August 2005 at Harlem High School. Four other threats were made at Greenbrier Middle School in November and December.

In the incidents, three juvenile suspects were arrested, Capt. Morris said.

"When the suspects are apprehended, even if they turn out to be minors, we will see to it that they are prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," Capt. Morris wrote in an e-mail.

As a reaction to the dramatic increase in school bomb threats, Capt. Morris stated that law enforcement officials are taking the issue seriously.

"Those who would commit these acts should know that we will stringently oppose any leniency in the handling of these offenders, regardless of their age," he wrote.

According to the school system's code of conduct, a bomb threat would be considered a terroristic threat. Any pupil caught making a bomb threat might face the school system's hearing officer and expulsion.

In Aiken County, the threat of expulsion and jail time has curbed bomb threats in recent years, said Aiken County school Deputy Superintendent Bill Gallman.

"If we can catch the person making the threat, we will have them arrested and, if it's a student, they will be expelled from school," he said. "Bomb threats are right up there with carrying a weapon or attacking a staff member."

Pupils caught making bomb threats in Richmond County are expelled for a year and banned from carrying cell phones, which some were using to call in bomb threats.

School officials from Richmond and Columbia counties did not immediately return phone messages Wednesday and Thursday.

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 113, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.