GEAUGA COUNTY, Ohio — It’s not a ranking we like to hold, but Ohio schools lead the nation in reported school threats, averaging over ten a month in one study.
While the majority of scares turn out to be hoaxes, 3 News Investigates found these threats come with a heavy price, for students and taxpayers.
February 27, 2012, is a day those living in Chardon will never forget.
“I got a text message from my son that just said dad!! with exclamation points,” said Geauga County Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand.
Sheriff Hildenbrand responded to the school shooting as a Geauga County deputy and as a father.
“It was probably the worst call I ever went on,” said Sheriff Hildenbrand.
And calls like that are the reason why every threat must be taken seriously.
In the most recent study that reviewed 800 school threats across the country, Ohio led the way with 64 threats reported over a five month period.
Of those 800 school threats, 73% were shooting or bomb threats. 30% of the threats resulted in evacuations of schools. 10% of the threats closed school for at least the day of the threat.
Threats come by phone, through social media, and some by rumor mill as superintendent John Stoddard experienced last month at Berkshire High School in Burton.
“It was a rumor a student reported to the office that he had heard that someone was gonna come in and cause some type of violence at the school during Halloween, said John Stoddard, Superintendent of Berkshire Local Schools.
The threat was deemed not credible.
Still, four police officers and two deputies came to the start of school on Halloween to ease tension.
“Just to make sure everything started off smoothly,” said Stoddard.
These threats tax law enforcement resources.
The Geauga County Sheriff’s Office tells 3News Investigates that it costs roughly $2,000 to send four deputies to a school threat for two hours.
The Cuyahoga County Sheriff’s Office tells 3News Investigates that it costs anywhere from $2,000 to $15,000 to send anywhere from four to 12 deputies to a school threat for two hours, depending if SWAT, K9 and Bomb Squad are deployed.
Threats also take deputies away from other calls.
“Somebody on the other side of the county may need your assistance right away and you got them tied up at the school, so that response would be delayed,” said Sheriff Hildenbrand.
“I think the lives of our children and grandchildren should be paramount,” said Ruth Goff, who has ten grandchildren in Berkshire Local Schools.
Goff said it’s a price she’s willing to pay to keep kids safe.
“It's worth it, even if it was ten times that, it's worth it,” said Goff.
Each school district has their own policies when it comes to punishing the students who make the threats. That’s on top of the charges they could face in court.