The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced a campaign to educate the public on the consequences of posting hoax threats to schools and other public places, and reminds communities that these hoax threats are not a joke.
In the aftermath of tragic shootings such as the ones at Santa Fe High School and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the FBI and law enforcement around the country often see an increase in threats made to schools and other public forums.
The FBI and its partners follow up on every tip it receives from the public, and analyze and investigate all threats to determine their credibility.
Federal, state and local law enforcement then employ a full range of tools to mitigate those threats which are deemed credible.
"These investigations drain resources and cost taxpayers a lot of money," officials said in a news release. "When an investigation concludes there was a false or hoax threat made to a school, or another public place, a federal charge could be considered, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. If a federal charge is not warranted, state charges can be considered."
Public assistance is crucial to the FBI's efforts to curb these hoax threats.
"We ask that the public continue to contact law enforcement to report any potential threats or suspicious activity," officials said. "If there is any reason to believe the safety of others is at risk, we ask that the public immediately reach out to their local police department by calling 911, or contact the FBI via tips.fbi.gov or over the phone (1-800-CALL-FBI). As always, members of the public can call their nearest FBI field office to report a tip."
Early intervention can prevent a situation from escalating by identifying, assessing, and managing the threat, officials said.
"Remember, if you see something, say something. Hoax threats are not a joke, so think before you post," the release reads.