The Lee County Sheriff’s Office and the School District of Lee County take threats to school campus safety seriously.
According to the district’s website, last year the Youth Services Division of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office investigated around 150 such threats, nearly three times the number the year before.
“Every violent threat is taken seriously because police don’t know if a threat is real or fake,” the website states, adding that even fake threats aren’t harmless. They cost hours and money to investigate on the fiscal side; cause increased absenteeism and stress on the human side.
We agree: No threat should be taken lightly. No threat should go uninvestigated.
We thank both the LCSO and the District for their proactive and vigilant stance: They are protecting our children, our on-campus personnel and their policy of “Fake Threat, Real Consequences” makes sense.
Most of the time.
During the course of the long weekend, a 10-year-old student here in the Cape apparently thought it was funny to text a pair of pictures showing money and guns grabbed online to a friend.
A while later he sent a third text, “with a funny emoji” and the words “Get ready for water day,” a school event.
The father of the child receiving the texts saw them and became concerned.
We understand. At best, unless maybe you’re 10, the texts were not funny. At worst, given the world we live in, they are frightening.
The LCSO investigated. Detectives interviewed the boy and his father.
And they arrested the child on a felony — threatening a mass shooting at a school.
This is how the process works, or should: Concern, call, investigation, appropriate action.
When the action is an arrest, the juvenile criminal justice system then kicks in. The accused goes to a juvenile holding facility where an evaluation is conducted. The State Attorney’s Office and the Department of Children and Families become involved. There are court proceedings.
In this 10-year-old’s case, however, the process of evaluation and weighing of the evidence got gunned by, of all things, a social media post to Facebook by the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno.
And here is where our support of how this particular juvenile investigation has proceeded stops.
We’ll say upfront that we realize criticizing a popular public official is akin to kicking one of those puppies Sheriff Marceno conspicuously strives to protect.
But sometimes tough love is called for and this is one of those times.
Let us go back to the “real consequences” of making even a threat determined to be fake.
Having two detectives show up at your home is a real consequence. Being arrested is a real consequence. Being handcuffed and placed in the back of a squad car on your way to juvie is a real consequence. Being court ordered to stay there as your case is pending is a real consequence.
But being videoed during the process and having your perp walk posted to social media labeled as “a little delinquent” whose “behavior is sickening” is an unnecessary and inappropriate consequence.
Especially when the perp is 10 and the arresting agency, indeed the sheriff himself, acknowledge in the same social media post that the “child made a fake threat.”
Let us turn, too, to local media outlets that chose to share the video.
The decision was journalistically and ethically wrong.
Note that most of the “corporate media” at the state and national level blurred the boy’s face even as the story became less about the “fake threat” and more about Sheriff Marceno and his exceedingly quotable interviews, including a law-and-order defense of the agency’s now internationally famous Croc-footed child walk of shame.
Law and order?
We support the law.
The disorder of the public relations sideshow that’s been building now for months?
Not so much. In fact, not at all.
— Breeze editorial