• Clay Sheriff has "zero tolerance" for those behind false school threats

    By: Lorena Inclan , Action News Jax


    Clay County is dealing with a surge of school threats since the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting last Wednesday.

    Many of them are copycat threats, and none have turned out to be credible.

    MORE: Duval County Public Schools: We're open to metal detectorsOakleaf High reports high absence rate after social media threat 

    Since the school massacre in South Florida, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office has investigated 11 threats.

    This school year alone, it’s gotten 17 threats.

    Two of those came from the same student who made a verbal and social media threat.

    “It sickens me to think that somebody would think it’s a game to put out a post an email, an Instagram post or any other kind of social media platform threatening violence,” said Sheriff Darryl Daniels.

    Oakleaf High School was the latest target of a threat that while false caused a real scare prompting 40 percent of students to be absent Thursday.

    “Definitely worries me, makes me very concerned sending my son to school every day,” said Dana Lovoi, a parent of a student at Oakleaf.

    Because of the increase in threats Sheriff Daniels called a news conference Thursday to address the issue.

    “We vet every threat and take every threat seriously. There is no idle threat,” Daniels said.

    So far this school year, a 14-year-old has been arrested for making bomb threats and another arrest is still pending. Both incidents happened before the mass shooting at Stoneman Douglas.

    Even though none of the threats have been credible, Sheriff Daniels said they were all investigated even at the detriment of his agency’s budget.

    “If I’m going to blow the budget on any one item it’s certainly going to be for the safety and welfare of our children,” Daniels said.

    Superintendent Addison Davis said students who make threats can expect serious consequences.

    “The consequences could lead to out of school suspension up to expulsion and that would be the determination of a hearing to the board,” Davis said .

    “If your kid or you or somebody in this viewing audience thinks it’s cute to do that we’ll arrest you if we find out it’s you,” said Daniels. 

    Sheriff Daniels said it costs $12,000 of taxpayer money to have a dedicated deputy at each school last Friday when someone again made a threat. He said that’s money that could’ve been used elsewhere.

    The sheriff also addressed another hot button issue at today’s news conference and that’s the debate over whether teachers should be armed.

    Sheriff Daniels said the Florida Sheriff’s Association is looking into whether law enforcement can help train teachers and administrators in the use of firearms.

    “There may be a time during the very near future, very near future, when state funding is made available for us to do that and teachers and administrators will be carrying guns in school,” said Daniels.

    Some parents don’t want to see that happen.

    “I’m not sure that that’s the best idea, either. I don’t know that it’s the right place for a gun,”Lovoi said. 

    But one thing they can agree on is tighter security.

    “Definitely more security at the schools and just a lockdown campus in general to ensure that no people that shouldn’t be there are there,” said Lovoi.

    Sheriff Daniels said his agency has applied for a grant in the past to help increase the number of school resource deputies on campuses. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office will apply for that same grant again this year.

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