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Kaua'i Police Chief Calls For New Procedures In Wake Of School Threats

Responding to recent threats against island schools, Kaua'i Police Chief Todd Raybuck described school lockdowns and evacuations as appropriate when the threats are active and imminent, but said they may not be when unconfirmed.

In a statement Friday, Raybuck said his department recognizes that not all threats are legitimate, but that they can negatively affect students and the community.

He said the department investigated the recent incidents and verified there were no imminent threats to the safety of students and faculty.

"In light of the recent threats made toward Kaua'i's public schools, the Kaua'i Police Department (KPD) recognizes the need for officials to work together in establishing revised assessments and procedures for responding to school threats," he stated.

The Garden Island newspaper reported Saturday that classes were disrupted on Oct. 18 when Kapaa school received an anonymous threat -- the fifth such school threat in the past month.

Raybuck called on school officials to work with police to establish a "criteria-based response to threats." He said additional procedures for unconfirmed and non-credible threats can be included to "lessen the psychological and emotional impact of those involved."

Following the February 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, several federal agencies developed recommendations on ensuring school safety, including procedures for threat assessments as part of a broader approach to preventing school violence.

The Federal Commission on School Safety in its December 2018 report cited a study by the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Secret Service that found targeted violence against K-12 schools were rarely sudden or impulsive. Instead, people knew about the attackers' idea or plan and that the attackers exhibited some behavior that raised concerns or indicated they needed help.

"Informed, alert communities play a critical role in keeping our nation safe. By reporting suspicious activities, individuals may be providing the information authorities need to stop an attack before it occurs," the commission stated.

Raybuck said those identified in the recent incidents on Kaua'i are being held accountable and investigations continue. He said the department cannot release details in the cases as they pertain to juveniles.

"We strongly urge all parents and guardians to take this opportunity to talk to their children about the seriousness of making threats against another person or school," Raybuck said. "Terroristic theatening of any degree is a very serious crime that carries serious consequences."

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