Legislator: Added flexibility will ensure punishment fits crime
State Rep. Beau LaFave today introduced a plan to cut down on threats against students and teachers in Michigan schools.
LaFave, of Iron Mountain, said the legislation is in response to the recent increase in threats against schools in the Upper Peninsula and throughout the state.
“Even the threat of a shooting or a bomb on campus is every parent’s worst nightmare,” LaFave said. “Anybody who texts, posts online or calls in such threats must be dealt with appropriately.”
LaFave said students who make threats are rarely charged under the current law because the only real option available is a 20-year felony terrorism charge.
Under the plan laid out in House Bill 5942, anyone who threatens to use a firearm, explosive device, or other dangerous weapons against students or school employees could receive up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Anyone who takes an overt act toward carrying out the threat faces 10 years imprisonment and a fine up to $20,000.
“Showing people this crime is taken seriously will help cut down on the number of threats made against our schools,” LaFave said. “We must do everything we can to ensure our schools are safe – so students can focus on learning and growing.”
LaFave also sponsored a plan with bipartisan support focused on improving school safety approved by the House today.
The plan creates a statewide commission to develop a system to audit safety procedures in Michigan schools. Grants to improve security would be distributed with priority going to schools with the greatest need.
A liaison within each school district would report to and work with the commission. Specifically, LaFave’s bill requires schools to submit incident reports to the commission – providing real-life examples of how incidents and threats were handled to develop best practices for other Michigan schools to follow.
“This system will help communicate the best strategies to every school district in Michigan, whether the idea originates in Menominee or Monroe or anyplace in between,” LaFave said. “It’s a key part of the teamwork necessary to keep our kids safe and our schools secure. I hope all of my Upper Peninsula colleagues can find a way to support this as it moves through the legislative process.”
The information gathered through the reporting also would give the state great insight into the types and number of incidents and threats occurring around the state, LaFave said.