NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — Police in Newport say two threats were made related to schools in the space of three days — though both threats were determined to be hoaxes.
According to Newport Police, an anonymous call making a threat was made about 6:30 p.m. Sunday night to the principal of Rogers High School. Police said they immediately searched the Rogers school grounds and found no evidence of foul play. Officers and school administrators quickly determined school would not be canceled, and safety for students and faculty would be maintained. The number of officers on campus was increased for Monday, but classes proceeded.
Then early Tuesday morning, about 5:30 a.m., an anonymous call — in fact, a computer-automated call — was made to the Police Department headquarters, police said, threatening the Newport public schools. School grounds were searched and again, no evidence of foul play, physical threat or object of concern was discovered. That too is being considered a hoax, and classes were not affected. Both incidents are similar to other incidents across the country.
“We would like to remind the public that all matters concerning the public safety of the City of Newport will be taken seriously,” said Sgt. Corey Huck in a news release Tuesday. Monday’s statement had a similar note: “The Newport School Department and the Newport Police Department are committed to keeping our schools safe, and would like to reassure the public that at no time were any staff or students in any danger.
On January 19, police responded to threats at a score of schools in Rhode Island and Massachusetts that came by phone or automated calls.
In the past several years, the United States has had an increased concern for schools and the ability for students to learn in a welcoming, safe environment. Eyewitness News uses extreme caution when reporting on threats against schools, weighing the potential for copycat crimes and your need to know what’s happening at schools and what’s being done to keep students safe.
In Rhode Island, police tell us making a threat is a serious crime that could lead to as many as ten years in prison and fines up to $5,000.
Massachusetts State Police have told us calling in a fake threat is punishable by as much as 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $50,000, or both.