Law enforcement comes down hard on social media school threats

Law enforcement comes down hard on social media school threats
District Attorney Randall Houston speaks at Wednesday's news conference. (Source: WSFA 12 News(
Prattville Police Chief Mark Thompson speaks as Prattville Mayor Bill Gillispie looks on during a news conference on school threats Wednesday. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Prattville Police Chief Mark Thompson speaks as Prattville Mayor Bill Gillispie looks on during a news conference on school threats Wednesday. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Judge Joy Booth speaks to media during Wednesday's news conference (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Judge Joy Booth speaks to media during Wednesday's news conference (Source: WSFA 12 News)

AUTAUGA COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - New developments in the arrests of those two 12 year olds in Autauga County for posting school threats on social media. Law enforcement, a judge, the county superintendent and the district attorney presented a united front to say enough is enough.

"It needed to be done to let the public know," said 19th Judicial Circuit District Attorney Randall Houston.

It was an unusual show of determination with a stern warning inside the Autauga County Courthouse. The county judicial leaders sounded a common theme regarding children and smartphones.

"The unsupervised use of social media by children has resulted in a strain on law enforcement like we have never seen," said Chief Assistant District Attorney C.J. Robinson.

"If you are a parent or a custodian, you are held strictly accountable," said 19th Judicial Circuit District Judge Joy Booth.

They gathered to make two major points; there will be a  push in the Alabama legislature next year to pass a bill that would require parents to reimburse law enforcement for the time they spent investigating school threats on social media.

"But order them to insure the expense of these investigations," said Houston.

Prattville police, for example, assigned at least three investigators on Sunday alone, an investigation that led to the arrest of the second 12-year-old, a student at Prattville Intermediate School. Thompson didn't know exactly how much money has been spent but is keeping a running tab.

"We're not going to tolerate this," said Chief Thompson.

And since the high school massacre in Parkland, Florida, a few weeks ago, investigators have been busy in the 19th judicial district which covers three counties; Autauga, Elmore and Chilton.

"In recent weeks, the 19th circuit alone has had approximately 20 incidents that law enforcement had to investigate," Robinson said.

And there's more; more cameras are on the way to Autauga County Public Schools.

"Dead zones not being covered and two-way radios," said Autauga County Public School Superintendent Spence Agee.

It's been said the school threats today on social media are the modern day bomb threats. While some students say it's all a joke to stay home for the day, no one is laughing at the courthouse.

Agee said he was not a fan of arming teachers in the classroom as proposed by President Donald Trump.

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