Cumberland Times-News

January 9, 2013

Raise the cost

Stronger penalties for bomb threats proposed

Cumberland Times-News

— How to deal with repeated bomb threats at school has been a struggle for local officials for some time — but some possible solutions may have been found at a meeting at the Allegany County Board of Education’s central office this week.

There were 12 bomb threats at county public schools last year. Of those, nine students were identified as the culprits.

But consequences for bomb threats are rarely severe and there has been a tendency for students to believe they will not face harsh treatment if they are caught.

At Monday’s meeting — attended by 22 officials from law enforcement, education and the government — several possible solutions were suggested, including:

•  Adding bomb threats, by including them under arson, to the list of offenses by a minor punishable as an adult.

•  Making an approach to the Circuit Court judges and asking them to consider handling offenders instead of a law master.

• Having Allegany County State’s Attorney Michael Twigg survey the Maryland State’s Attorney’s Association for input and support on the topic.

• Making it a priority to hold parents responsible for the costs involved in bomb threat responses by police. There are already laws in place that could fine parents up to $10,00 to cover costs.

• Imposing tougher community service work for students convicted of making a threat.

Twigg was in attendance Monday and pointed out that Caroline County appears to have a good handle on the bomb threat problem. “Caroline County didn’t have the (bomb threat) problem too often and they’ve suggested to make the bomb threat a form of an arson charge that could be treated as an adult crime,” he said.

There still is plenty of work to be done to alleviate the county’s bomb threat problem. Monday’s meeting was a good start. We look forward to seeing some of the suggestions implemented as local policy.