Safety policies discussed after string of school threats in southern IL

Officials in southern IL explore new way to handle school threats
At least a dozen bomb threats have been reported in Southern Illinois since January. (Source: TJ Smith, KFVS)
At least a dozen bomb threats have been reported in Southern Illinois since January. (Source: TJ Smith, KFVS)

(KFVS) - At least a dozen bomb-threats have been reported to southern Illinois schools since January 2016.

Frankfort Community High School Principal Bethany Shaw said the school has to take every threat seriously.

"The best thing that we can do is be proactive. To talk to our students about the fact that this causes a huge disruption," Shaw said. "Not only here in our building but throughout the community. That it's not a way to seek attention."

Shaw said the schools work in conjunction with law enforcement to determine what course of action to take when a threat is made.

A threat could cause law enforcement intervention, delays or canceling class, evacuation of school, and notification of parents.

"Things change the day in age we're living in, we take everything seriously and try to handle it in the most effective way that we can," Shaw said.

Deputy Brian Murrah with the Williamson County Sheriff's Department said law enforcement are closely looking the ways these incidents are handled.

"It's far more serious than what the students understand, what the families understand," Murrah said. "It falls under the definition of making a terroristic threat."

Threats come in through phone calls, notes, or messages found at the schools, he said.

Murrah said changes to the automatic evacuation policy and cancellation of class could help deter these threats.

"It's something else that they have to pay attention that goes beyond the reading, writing, and arithmetic," Murrah said. "What we need is the awareness and just the realization that it could happen."

Murrah said schools are also upping security by adding cameras.

EDITORS NOTE: It is our policy at KFVS not to report individual bomb threats or similar threats. It is our responsibility to provide the communities we serve with objective reports. We use discretion in our reporting to minimize harm to communities and not to spark similar incidents in nearby communities. However, the issue is very much a safety concern where parents should be involved.

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