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CCPD to seek threat-related costs

By Staff | Feb 14, 2019

Despite the numerous public service announcements throughout the county and in all schools encompassing the District of Lee County, students continue to make “fake threats” against peers and institutions-and now, parents could be feeling more than disappointment when it comes to their child’s action.

Police agencies throughout Lee County, including the Cape Coral Police Department, are arresting students – most on a felony charge – and say they will seek restitution for investigative costs.

“These children that will be arrested are being charged with a second degree felony. We will also seek cost recovery for the investigation – law enforcement expenses through these investigations. But this has to stop,” said CCPD Chief David Newlan at a press conference held Tuesday.

A Florida statute under the Criminal Procedure and Corrections, Chapter 938 reads: “In all criminal and violation-of-probation or community-control cases, convicted persons are liable for payment of the costs of prosecution, including investigative costs incurred by law enforcement agencies, by fire departments for arson investigations, and by investigations of the Department of Financial Services or the Office of Financial Regulation of the Financial Services Commission, if requested by such agencies.”

“(Chief Newlan) alluded to it in the press conference today (Tuesday) about cost recovery. It’s actually in the statute where the parents can be held financially responsible for the outlay,” said CCPD Deputy Chief Anthony Sizemore.

The ever-growing number of school threats – leading up to the one-year anniversary of the tragic Parkland shooting – are harming the community and disrupting the educational process of thousands of students in Lee County Schools, officials said.

Since the “Fake ThreatReal Consequences” campaign was initiated in mid-January, there have been at least eight arrests across the county, including five in Cape Coral.

Earlier in the week, a 15-year-old student at Island Coast High School was arrested after he reportedly sent a Snapchat video at the end of January depicting himself with a BB gun, with the orange tip colored over in black, threatening to kill another student. The video was accompanied by a written message as well.

On Tuesday evening, following the CCPD’s second press conference concerning school threats, the department responded to a threat report concerning Oasis Middle and Oasis High School, resulting in nearly 900 absent students on Wednesday.

That threat, reported to a parent who notified authorities, turned out to be made up by the student, who was subsequently arrested on a misdemeanor.

The School District of Lee County and law enforcement agencies are asking for parental help.

“We think that this campaign is a positive thing if we can get the word out to parents – we need to really crack down on this issue because it’s become very, very disruptive,” said Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Greg Adkins, Tuesday.

Sizemore provided some insight on what goes into these investigations of school threats.

It’s not just a school resource office running down leads, he said. The SRO takes the initial report and then a major crimes detective is assigned and goes to the school.

“We had three in one day yesterday,” Sizemore said Tuesday. “That’s a very taxing effort.”

“And when you tabulate that on a fiscal sheet, that’s a big number for a parent that may be an eye-opener. So, we’re grasping at every different angle to try and reach somebody. When you’re falling down a mountain you’ll grab for anything, and this may be the branch that they grab on to and say, ‘Whoa, I better talk to my kids.’ We hope that people are talking to their kids in general. You know those that are scared-that are worried about going to school, those that are contemplating doing threats, those that know information but don’t know how to process that or where to go with it. We hope that just any type of dinner table conversation will occur.”

For more information on the “Fake Threat…Real Consequences” campaign, visit www.leeschools.net.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj