New law makes more school threat arrests possible

Posted at 12:54 PM, Apr 17, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-17 14:54:24-04

At least three people have been arrested or charged thanks to a recently enacted Idaho law updating school threat penalties. 

A Moscow man was charged with a misdemeanor in March following threats made on YouTube. In April, it was reportedtwo Idaho City students were arrested following online threats. 

Prior to the signing of House Bill 665 prosecutors could not bring charges against someone who threatens a school while off campus or through social media. 

"With the advent of technology and the way that news travels so quickly... there wasn't a way to hold anybody accountable whether [a threat] was credible or not," Boise Police Sgt. Sara Hill said. 

The bill was signed into law March 23and contained an emergency clause so that the law would take effect as soon as it was signed. 

The law makes it a misdemeanor for making a threat that disrupts school activities or a felony if the person making the threat is found to have firearms or other deadly weapons. 

Prior to enacting the law, Idaho's school threat policies had not been updated in ten years. 

"It wasn't necessarily the same students or juveniles making the same types of threats, but it might be one step removed," Hill said. "The friends of friends making the same kinds of threats because there wasn't a lot of accountability from the criminal side."

While law enforcement agencies hope the new law is a deterrent, they're not backing down from diligently pursuing suspicious comments, posts and messages.

"That's something that has certainly come out of these other incidents in other jurisdictions... that there were cues, there were concerns," Hill said. "We finally have the ability to hold some of these individuals... accountable for their behavior."