New Mexico lawmaker wants tougher penalties for school threats

New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Over the weekend, the West Las Vegas School District was on alert for a potential threat. Since school started, these threats have been happening regularly across the state. One lawmaker wants to have a harsher penalty for people who make these kinds of threats.

“I think it’s the sign of our times,” said State Sen. Craig Brandt, R- Rio Rancho.

Like most people, Republican Sen. Brandt is tired of hearing about threats to shoot up a school or hurt people.

“We just saw this situation, we’re seeing it all over the country,” said Sen. Brandt.

Over the weekend, the West Las Vegas School District set up a shelter for their high school and middle school while investigators looked into a potential threat. It’s now said to be not credible, but none-the-less it scared parents.

This year, KRQE News 13 has received word of at least a dozen potential threats against schools. They range from pictures on social media to parents saying their child heard something was going to happen.

“Let’s get it when it’s a threat and not already when it’s happened,” said Sen. Brandt.

The senator wants to discourage any threat against schools by making it a fourth-degree felony. Right now, the only charge that really applies when it’s not a credible threat, is interruption of the educational process, which is a petty misdemeanor.

“The first thing you think of with your child is their safety,” said parent Tyra Dalton.

Parents who KRQE News 13 spoke with are surprised to hear the penalties are so lax. Some think making it a fourth-degree felony, with a potential 18-month sentence, maybe too severe, but they do think a message needs to be sent to those who do this.

“It’s a pretty serious issue,” said parent Kevin Parrish. “I think people should put consideration putting them into like therapy or something.”

Sen. Brandt tried to pass that legislation this past session, but it stalled on the Senate floor. It will be up to the governor if she wants that kind of legislation to be put on the docket this next session because it’s only a 30-day session.

A handful of kids have been charged with making threats under the current law. One of them was a Farmington student who simply made a comment to another student he wanted to shoot up the school. A Clovis student also served a week in jail for posting a threat on social media in 2018. Four Roswell students were charged for writing threats inside their school.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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