DORAL, FL – Since the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year, the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department (MDSPD) has investigated 40 threats involving schools within the area and made six arrests. Half of those school threats have taken place within the last week.
Hoax threats have seriously disrupted the schools’ educational environment and interfered with police officers’ ability to protect schools from real dangers; drained law enforcement resources; cost taxpayers’ money; and increased stress levels, anxiety, and absenteeism.
“Our Schools Police Department will continue to collaborate with federal and local law enforcement partners and the State Attorney’s office to investigate and prosecute to the fullest extent of the law all individuals associated with threats against our schools.,” said Schools Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho.
“Hoax or not, there will be short- and long-term consequences that will leave indelible marks on the lives of these individuals.”
Every threat is taken seriously. On average, it takes 24 hours from start to finish, spread over a three-day work period, to investigate these cases and determine their validity. Simpler cases can be resolved over an 8-hour period with one detective, while others can take more than 40 hours and require several detectives and the involvement of external police and criminal justice agencies.
The District is reminding the public that anyone making such a threat will likely be identified; a written threat to kill or harm is a felony that will not be tolerated; and perpetrators will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
“We investigate every threat, including pranks, with extreme vigor,” said Miami-Dade Schools Police Chief Edwin Lopez. “These threats wreak havoc for the entire school community. We urge parents and guardians to speak to their children about the importance of acting responsibly and how negative actions can lead to life-altering repercussions.”
Arrests have a lasting impact on students’ futures. A federal charge could be included, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Even if federal charges are not warranted, state charges may be considered.
Several years ago, the School Board approved an item endorsing the FBI’s Education Awareness Campaign, #ThinkBeforeYouPost, on the consequences of posting hoax threats on social media regarding schools and other public places.
Even with all the precautions in place, vigilance continues to be the most effective way to prevent dangerous situations. Through the See Something, Say Something initiative, anyone who witnesses suspicious activity is encouraged to call 305-995-COPS or contact the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) via tips.fbi.gov or via phone (1-800-CALL-FBI).
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