Connecticut ranks high in number of school threats

Three weeks after Connecticut was ranked as the state with the 10th most threats to schools between August and December 2014, Hamden High School evacuated its corridors Friday morning in response to a bomb threat.
Hamden Police Department arrested 18-year-old Dyshawn Silva, who called the police Friday morning to say there was a bomb in the school. The Hamden police did not locate any bombs in the school, and classes resumed Friday afternoon, the HPD reported on their Twitter account on Friday. Silva has been charged with first-degree threatening, second-degree breach of peace and falsely reporting an incident.
Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, directed a study on the number of threats to schools across the country, calling the national rise of violent school threats an “epidemic.” His report was released on Feb. 9.
“School threats are a fast growing problem,” he said in a press release. “They send fear and panic through a community.”
His reports said school threats have increased by 158 percent since the same survey was conducted in 2013.
He added in an email to the News that the quick spread of communication via social media is presenting school administrators with added challenges in dealing with school threats. Social media can create widespread anxiety that puts intense pressure on a school’s administration to manage not only the threat but also the communication with students, staff and parents.
Thirty-seven percent of the threats Trump studied were sent electronically, and 28 percent of those communications were sent using social media.
According to Trump’s report, high schools received 70 percent of threats, middle schools received 18 percent and elementary schools received 10 percent. Yet, despite the smaller percentage of elementary schools that receive threats nationwide, the discussion of school threats in the state of Connecticut is focused around the tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.
On Feb. 12 — two years and two months after 26 people were killed by a gunman at the elementary school — a task force released a report analyzing the shooting and offering a list of recommendations to legislators.
“The initial, and entirely natural, reaction to a tragedy like the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School is to consider steps that would make it virtually impossible for such a violent event to occur at a school ever again,” the report reads.
Dora Schriro, the commissioner of the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, told the Connecticut Post that the state is ready to invest in gathering more data on school threats.
As of March 2015, over $43 million of state funding has been allocated to ensuring improved school safety since the events of December 2012. Gov. Dannel Malloy has expanded the School Security Grant Program. Since November 2013, funding has increased to provide reimbursement for school districts purchasing security infrastructure including surveillance cameras, penetration resistant vestibules, ballistic glass, panic alarms and computer-controlled electronic locks.
“It is unfortunate we have to prepare for these situations, but a well-crafted plan is essential if we are to minimize risks to the lives and safety of students, teachers and school staff during times of crisis,” Malloy said in a December 2014 press release.