NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Panicked parents set to the backdrop of flashing lights is something we often see when there’s a school threat in Middle Tennessee. However, all too often, officers find nothing after spending hours searching the school.
These fake school threats don’t just mean criminal charges for the people responsible; they cost money, time, and resources, but how much?
It’s becoming a continuously frustrating situation.
“First and foremost, my heart goes out to every single student, parent, and family that has to deal with this. This is something that has been normalized in our society,” said Metro Councilman Jeff Preptit, who just won his seat for District 25.
The latest school threat happened in his district. On Monday afternoon, John Overton High School was placed on lockdown after Metro police received two calls about an active shooter. Those claims turned out to be false. MNPD arrested a ninth-grader for making a threat of mass violence, making a false report, and abuse of the 911 system.
“Not only is it just an issue of taking away resources from [Metro Nashville Public Schools] and from MNPD, it’s robbing these students and these families of the tranquility for being able to learn in a safe and tranquil environment,” explained Preptit.
However, it’s not only those resources being taken away, but also money.
“Tennessee is seeing pretty big threats, some costly things,” said Don Beeler, the CRO of TDR Technology Solutions. “The number of students impacted, you’ve had over 50,000 students impacted by threats, and that puts you at eighth out of the 50 states.”
TDR Technology Solutions tracks school threats and swatting incidents across the country.
Beller said oftentimes these threats against schools not only come with punishable offenses, but a hefty price tag for taxpayers.
“John Overton High School was $46,000 for that threat that the young man called into 911; it’s not a prank,” he said. “A one-hour threat can often result in four hours of lost instruction time because you have a one-hour threat. Rightfully so, there are a lot of parents who are uncomfortable and they pick their child up, depending on if there is someone caught…the next day they may keep their kids home, too, and when you look at 20% of the school doing this, it adds up really fast.”
That does not include the cost of law enforcement, who drop everything to respond.
“It costs resources when you pull all those resources, law enforcement, vehicles, it’s just a massive amount of money that is going to not be used, or not used in the right resources,” said Rudy Perez, the president of the National Association of School Resource Officers.