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Maybe new law will deter bomb threats

It may have been a prank, but the reported bomb threat called into 911 Tuesday morning was taken seriously by the Brookhaven School District. Officials had no choice.

Given that Tuesday was a state testing day and the high school was being used as a polling place for a bond vote, there were plenty of activities to disrupt.

Whatever the motive, these kinds of threats must stop. Aside from disrupting the school day, valuable law enforcement resources were spent checking and double-checking to make sure the campus was safe.

If a suspect is found, he/she could face up to a year in jail for a misdemeanor or more if it’s a felony conviction. A new law that takes effect July 1 will make threats a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. It won’t matter if the threat is a prank or joke, a judge can still levy the maximum penalty.

Lawmakers are hoping the harsher penalty will serve as a deterrent.

“This is to tell people we are serious when it comes to making these type threats,” said Sen. Briggs Hopson, R-Vicksburg, who authored the bill.

Bomb threats are not uncommon at schools across the state. A teenager was arrested after he allegedly called in a bomb threat to Raymond High School in April. The phone call was allegedly traced back to his phone. A few days before that, students evacuated Newton High School after a bomb threat was called in.

We are hopeful the new law with tougher penalties will help put a stop to the crime. Ten years in prison for a prank might seem harsh, but a slap on the wrist is obviously not enough to deter the activity.