False-alarms are one of the most annoying aspects of law enforcement and other emergency response teams; it’s why most of the time those that cause one are handed fines and other punishments. Every false-alarm is wasted time spent handling a prank or a non-issue, while a real issue could be occurring somewhere else. And with each alarm requiring 20 minutes and two officers to investigate? That is a serious waste of resources.
In some cases, triggering a false-alarm can result in being labeled a criminal. Something that a nine-year old girl found out the hard way just recently. The little girl had made multiple calls from her elementary school bus stating that there was a person with a gun at the Spruce Mountain Middle School. Naturally, this is a case that the police simply couldn’t ignore.
The calls that the little girl made forced three Jay schools in the region to shut down or go into lockdown, said the police. Upon arrival at the scene, the little girl was discovered to have been giving a false-alarm, and she was arrested and charged.
The case, according to Police Chief Richard Caton, will be taken to the juvenile court system. Creating a false-alarm is a class D crime, the police chief said. Despite the young age of the suspect, it can’t be ignored.
The reason why the little girl, a fourth-grader at the Spruce Mountain Elementary School, made the calls is currently not clear. Caton doesn’t dismiss the possibility that the girl did not fully understand her actions.
“At this point, it’s still undetermined,” he said. “I don’t think she fully understands what she did and the aftermath of what she has done. … I don’t think was clear at the time of talking to her.”
Chief Caton said that this is the first time his department has ever had to deal with someone so young and that likely the court system will recommend counseling for the girl. It is incredibly unlikely that the court system will rule to have someone so young put into a facility.
School superintendent Kenneth Healey said that the police received the call around 8:30 a.m, and that the district immediately took action. The school’s safety committee has been very proactive in making plans and practicing for what needs to be done in such emergencies.
“We’ve practiced this quite a bit,” Healey said. “In fact, the first day for teachers (Aug. 28), we had trained for an active-shooter situation, so it’s fresh in their minds. The professionalism of everyone involved I’m very proud of, especially the outside agencies that supported us.”
The fate of the girl will be decided at a court case in the future, though the date is unknown. She is currently looking at a “Class D” criminal charge.