Sheriff Clarke calling for felony charges for those accused of bomb threats

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke issued a statement Wednesday, September 26th, questioning the prosecution policy of those arrested for making bomb threats against schools.

Sheriff Clarke says since 2011, the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office and its Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit (bomb squad) has responded to 10 bomb threats against schools, and only two of those cases resulted in arrests.

In each case, according to the sheriff, the end result was the suspects did not face criminal charges.

Sheriff Clarke's statement comes a day after a 17-year-old Greendale High School student was arrested and accused of scrawling a bomb threat on a bathroom stall at the school last week. The student, who is being held in custody, reported that he penned the threat in an attempt to disrupt Homecoming activities.

This is Greendale High School's second such incident in a year. Police say three girls made a bomb threat at Greendale High School in February. The girls told investigators they did it to get out of school and enjoy the nice weather.

The threat forced school officials to move the GHS Homecoming Dance to the Greendale Middle School on Saturday night. During that time, the high school underwent a couple of canine searches and was locked down for safety's sake. Another canine sweep was conducted at Greendale High School Monday.

In his statement, Sheriff Clarke says he supports Wisconsin legislators who have proposed a law calling for those accused of making bomb threats be charged with felonies, punishable by a fine not to exceed $10,000 or imprisonment not to exceed three years and six months, or both.

In his statement, Sheriff Clarke said:

“Think about this for a minute.  A bomb threat wreaks havoc not just on a school, but an entire community as well.  School officials are caught between a rock and a hard place on whether to close school or not, parents have to suffer with anxiety about whether their kids are going to be safe at school, the kids themselves are scared, and all that happens is a ticket is issued? How is that a deterrent?  How is this going to cause the next goof to think twice about making a bomb threat when they are prosecuted as if they skipped school for a day?

I don’t care that it might be a person’s first offense.  There must be severe consequences resulting in a criminal charge for this serious incident if we are ever going to stop this. When students realize that they are screwing up their own life, then others will refrain from this illegal activity.   It’s a bomb scare for heaven’s sake, this isn’t a prank.  

Our Legislature has seen fit to pass a specific law, 947.015 ‘Bomb Scares’: Whoever intentionally conveys or causes to be conveyed any threat or false information, knowing such to be false, concerning an attempt or alleged attempt being made or to be made to destroy any property by the means of explosives is guilty of a Class I felony. Clearly, our elected representatives understand the import of those who, even falsely, claim to have planted an explosive.

We always hear prosecutors talk about how serious these incidents are, and how they take these things seriously.  This is a paper tiger prosecution.  Restitution and community service should happen as part of a criminal charge, not along with a ticket.  It is hard enough to catch the person who calls in a bomb threat.  When the police do their job and this is all that results, I have to question this prosecution policy.”

Related stories:

    /* Style Definitions */
    {mso-style-name:"Table Normal";
    mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
    mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
    mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";