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Police, schools superintendent call for halt to school threats

  • DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Deputy Chief John McCarthy (left) and Hawaii State Schools Superintendent Christine Kishimoto give a press conference at HPD Headquarters concerning the recent rash of school threats in Hawaii in the wake of the deadly shooting at a high school in Florida where a 19-year-old gunman killed 17 people with a semi-automatic rifle.

Honolulu Deputy Police Chief John McCarthy and Superintendent Christina Kishimoto joined forces today in calling for an end to the recent rash of threats by students against local schools.

“Since Jan. 1, we’ve dealt with more than a dozen threats directly dealing with Oahu schools,” McCarthy said at a press conference at HPD headquarters. “We’ve made several arrests in the last couple of days.”

So far, he said, the threats have turned out to be hoaxes and weapons have not been found on campuses.

Students can face criminal charges of terroristic threatening along with school discipline, including expulsion. Their cases remain confidential because they are juveniles, he said.

“We encourage the students, parents and the public to call 911 whenever they’re aware of a threat to a school,” McCarthy said.

Kishimoto noted that school districts across the country are dealing with rumors and threats against school safety, often spread across social media, and the same is happening here and must stop.

“As state superintendent, I want to say this is absolutely unacceptable,” she said. “When our school administrators become aware of a school threat, police are immediately notified and an investigation is launched.”

“We cannot stress enough that these threats are not taken lightly,” Kishimoto said. “I encourage all our parents to work with us to support our children and to ensure that they are not living in fear.”

McCarthy said police take every threat seriously and carefully assess its validity. HPD works closely with the FBI and the Department of Education.

“You’ve got to realize that Hawaii is still a very, very, very safe place,” McCarthy said. “The kids, why they do it, to get out of school, get attention, there’s a variety of reasons.”

”We’re not finding weapons in schools,” he added. “The problem is that we are expending a lot of time, energy, manpower, resources addressing what eventually turns out to be bogus incidents, and I think that needs to stop.”

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