Police Warn About Virginia Tech Copy Cats

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

The Virginia Tech massacre has prompted a lot of things, namely discussion about school security. But it has also prompted a number of copy cats to threaten Michigan schools.

"At this time, there's so much sensitivity as a result of Virginia Tech, so I'd say all of us expect an increase in the number of calls to 911 centers [in the coming days]," says Jackson County Sheriff Dan Heyns. "We take every threat seriously. You have to. You can't discount them."

Sheriff Heyns is no stranger to dealing with school threats. In February Springport schools received a number of bomb scares, which the Sheriff's Department swiftly investigated.

"Fortunately nothing came of that, but we were very vigorous in our approach," Heyns says.

He's keeping that experience in the forefront now, especially with the very real possibility of copy-cat behavior. Friday is also the eight-year anniversary of Columbine.

"It's a good time for schools and colleges and universities to review their emergency policies," he says.

In Delta Township, the Waverly School District takes every threat seriously, no matter if it follows a tragedy or not. But the director of student services there finds the word "copy-cat" misleading.

"We don't want to downplay any threat situation," Bruce Johnson says., adding that each case should be treated individually-- not as a mimick. "We don't want to walk in one day and assume it's not going to happen because something else occurred in another part of the country or state."

"There's no more joking around about violence," Heyns says. "We liken it to the airport. No one jokes about bringing bombs on a plane anymore."

And jokes about guns or bombs in school are no laughing matter, as the people who make them face criminal proseuction. Governor Granholm's office says bomb threats are a felony, punishable by up to four years in prison.

Those are serious charges for a very serious situation.


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