May 8, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---Richmond County schools have seen more than 120 bomb threats this school year. Now leaders and parents are trying to figure out what they can do. Tonight they held a public meeting to discuss the options.
A lot of solutions were tossed around, but nothing was decided on. But that may not be the case for very long.
"If we can start putting a name to a voice, I think if the children know they are going to be on channel 2, 12, at 5, 6, and 11 news, knowing someone in this whole city is going to recognize them, they're going to eventually back off," said Venus Cain, board member for District 9.
Cain says using the media as a tool is one solution that could help stop the problem of bomb threats. The number has skyrocketed. There have been a total of 129 threats this school year so far. 30 of them were reported at Morgan Road Middle School.
That's why now, more than ever, the Richmond County school board is looking to government officials and federal and state law enforcement agencies for their help and input.
"A bomb threat protocol has been drafted by the Department of Public Safety which provides guidelines in the event that the bomb is called, and has to be presented to the board for approval," said Board of Education Security Chief Julia Stein.
It's hoped that an intact policy will not only cut down on the number of threats but help cut down the costs. This school year, the estimated cost for the fire department has been more than $77,000, and for the sheriff's office, about $51. That totals well over a hundred thousand dollars--and that's not including the cost for 911 dispatchers or sheriff's office investigations.
Cain says she has a solution for the cost.
"Once a child is found guilty in a court of law, we need to start holding the parents responsible and the tab that it cost," she said. "We have to employ the parent help to get this done and to stop it immediately."
The board will now look at forming a committee to look into these suggestions and others. Nothing has been decided yet.
Lawmakers are even looking into the possibility of new legislation with harsher penalties for students caught making the threats.
Bomb threats are a growing problem, not only here in Augusta, but nationwide.