Tennessee Passes Stricter Measures Against School Threats

Tennessee Passes Stricter Measures Against School Threats

Threatening a Tennessee school’s safety could soon be illegal. The Tennessee Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill on Thursday that would toughen penalties for making threats of widespread violence on school grounds.

According to the fiscal note of the measure, the punishment is increased from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony, which carries an average sentence of seven months in jail.

Only a few days prior, the General Assembly had approved a different bill mandating that minors who threaten widespread violence on school premises forfeit their driver’s license or their right to apply for one.

“Just one threat will create havoc,” Cheatham County Sheriff Tim Binkley stated. “Not just for the school and all the kids….but we are going to call surrounding county officers, we are going to send all the officers we have available, our SWAT Teams go out to these things. So it’s not only time-consuming but very very costly.”

According to Sheriff Binkley, he has noticed an increase in threats against schools in recent years and believes tougher penalties for widespread threats will serve as a deterrent.

“I think the intended outcome would be to rehabilitate these [kids] at a higher level. We are not looking to punishment them for the rest of their lives…maybe get them in a different mindset,” Binkley stated.

The General Assembly should revoke a student’s driver’s license if they threaten to commit acts of mass violence, according to a resolution adopted by the Rutherford County School Board.

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“I’m very supportive [of] any bill that continues to add deterrence and add teeth to holding students and other ones accountable for threats that they make,” Director of Schools Jimmy Sullivan stated.

Although the Tennessee Department of Homeland Security is tasked with monitoring threats to schools on behalf of the state, it has stated in a statement that details about school safety are private.

Nonetheless, 84 bomb threats were made to Tennessee schools during the previous academic year, according to state data that is currently accessible. 44 existed the year before.

Even though Sullivan detests the practice, he thinks that removing pupils who threaten others has served to discourage other students from acting in a similar manner.

He thus hopes that these laws will follow suit.