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Columbia police: Juvenile detained after noncredible threat made on social media


The Columbia Police Department said Friday on its social media that a juvenile was identified and detained following a noncredible threat made on social media.

“A juvenile subject was identified and detained, and investigation was turned over to the Juvenile Office. We take these incidents seriously and continue to work with CPS to keep students and schools safe,” CPD wrote.

The threat involved Rock Bridge High School, according to a letter sent to parents on Friday.

"Earlier today, we were alerted by law enforcement about a threatening message being posted on social media.  Law enforcement, with the cooperation of Columbia Public Schools, immediately began an investigation.  While we do not believe the message to be a credible threat, we take all threats seriously, regardless of credibility," Rock Bridge Principal Jacob Sirna wrote in the letter.

"Threatening statements, rumors about threats to safety, or hoaxes related to school safety are subject to punishment according to Board of Education policy, which could include, but is not limited to, expulsion from the school district.  Law enforcement agencies also take these threats seriously, even when such incidents are intended as pranks."

ABC 17 News spoke with a juvenile officer of the 13th judicial circuit about the legal repercussions students who make these threats could possibly face. Chief juvenile officer Ruth McCluskey said the Missouri Juvenile Detention Assessment is used to determine the range of punishment.

"So when a youth is taken into custody by law enforcement, we score that youth on this assessment tool, and try to use that as a guide for which kids should remain in custody or potentially go to detention," McCluskey said.

Factors that go into making this decision include if a child is already being supervised by the court, and the child's mental health. McCluskey also said there are two alternatives to the child going to jail.

Those alternatives are either being put on house arrest, or being sent home with parents, with the expectation that the child will come back for a mental health evaluation. However, some students face more harsh punishments.

"You know some students are charged with um making terroristic threats in juvenile court," McCluskey said.

McCluskey also noted that each case is handled in the same manner, but the specifics of the threat are what ultimately determines the punishment.

"I think if the threat seems credible, we're more likely to want to place them in secure detention or on house arrest just to assure community safety," McCluskey said.

As of Friday night, it still wasn't clear what social media platform the threat was made on. ABC 17 News reached out to the Columbia Police Department for more details regarding the incident.

Article Topic Follows: Crime

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