LPD investigating threat call

Published 10:45 am Friday, December 1, 2023

Springwood School went into lockdown on Wednesday after a threat was called in to school around 3:15 p.m. The Lanett Police Department was notified of the threat, and officers secured the campus. 

The officers confirmed that there was no credible threat on campus. The students on campus, mainly students in afterschool programs, according to a press release from LPD, were released.  

While the incident remains under investigation, Lanett PD Cpt. Patrick McCullough said it is possible for threats like this to lead to similar hoax calls rippling through a community.

Email newsletter signup

In February, the Washington Post reported on a series of eight hoax calls made to schools around Saginaw Township in Michigan. Many other communities have faced similar problems as well. 

However, calling in a hoax threat is a serious criminal act that should not be taken lightly. 

Making a terrorist threat is considered a class C felony, according to McCullough. Individuals charged with the crime can sometimes face up to 10 years of imprisonment.

McCullough also cited a press release from the National Association of School Resource Officer (NASRO) and Safe and Sound Schools. 

The release gave information and considerations for school resource officers about the surge in “swatting” calls, which refers to making a hoax call to 911 about an armed intruder or active shooting taking place. 

The colloquialism comes from the severity of the call leading SWAT teams to be discharged.

McCullough said a terrorist threat is any time a person “threatens to commit a crime of violence against a person or to damage any property by use of a bomb, explosive, weapon of mass destruction, firearm, deadly weapon, or other mechanism.”

A terrorist threat must also cause the evacuation of property or the “the disruption of school, church or government activity,” according to the state law cited by McCullough.

“These threats are taken seriously by both law enforcement and school administrations. The disruption to educational activities and law enforcement resources can be significant,” McCullough said in an email to the VTN.

The NASRO release stated in 2013 that an FBI official estimated that hundreds of hoax calls were being made a year. 

The police and first responder response to high-priority calls has inherent risks in using sirens and rushing to the scene. It also takes valuable resources away from real community concerns. 

Hoax calls also disrupt the school and put students, faculty and first responders in an unnecessary heightened state of anxiety.