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Zero tolerance: Bomb hoaxes are no joke

E-mailed threat last month set in motion a procedure planned well in advance

There is no such thing as a bomb threat that’s a “joke” to officials with the Moffat County School District, and it certainly wouldn’t be funny to any student caught making a bomb threat.

“It’s a federal crime and a felony offense,” Superintendent Pete Bergmann said. “It would likely result in expulsion for that student; there wouldn’t be any slap on the wrist here.”

An e-mail sent to Craig Middle School last month contained a bomb threat that set in motion a series of actions planned well in advance.



“We have to have protocol for a variety of situations, and bomb threats are one,” Bergmann said. “We, as a district, are trying to get that well-established, written and practiced in every building.”

Secretaries at each building have a checklist. Whoever takes a threatening call goes through the checklist as the call occurs, documenting the callers exact words and describing the caller’s voice, mood, age, sex and any background noise.



They also are encouraged in engage in a dialogue with the caller, hopefully to ferret out more information.

When the call is complete, the building principal, school superintendent and generally the police are brought in to evaluate the situation and determine whether the threat is viable.

“It’s never an isolated decision,” Bergmann said. “It’s a team of people working together to examine the evidence.”

No matter what the elements of the threat are — whether it’s written on toilet paper in the girls bathroom as happened once at the high school — an investigation takes place.

The scope of that investigation is determined by whether officials view the threat as credible.

“We take all threats seriously,” Bergmann said. “We conduct a search almost regardless.”

Whether the search is conducted quietly or the school is evacuated and searched depend on how credible school and law enforcement officials think the threat is.

Bergmann said bomb threats are fairly rare. In the three years he’s been the superintendent of schools, he has handled three. Two were investigated quietly and the other saw bomb-sniffing dogs brought in for an hours-long search.

“This is serious business,” Bergmann said. “It’s a serious issues in this day and age that we have zero tolerance for.”

Even though last month’s threat against Craig Middle School was found to be a hoax, Bergmann said the district won’t hesitate to press charges if the perpetrator is found.


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