False threats spike, FBI responds
New Jersey is no stranger to hoax threats.
But maybe the folks behind the false promises of violence would be less likely to place that phone call or send that tweet or scribble that message on a bathroom stall if they knew the consequences of their "joke."
In the aftermath of deadly shootings such as the ones in Texas and Florida this year, law enforcement typically sees an increase in threats made to schools and other public places.
So the FBI has launched a campaign that highlights the consequences of posting hoax threats, and sends the warning to "think before you post."
"Any communication threatening students, teachers and staff at schools or public places is a federal crime that could lock people behind prison doors for up to five years," according to a public service announcement from the Bureau. "If you think making false threats is a joke, think again."
Christopher Stangl, assistant special agent in charge of the national security branch at the FBI Newark office, said false threats drain law enforcement resources and cost taxpayers.
"We must respond with all of our tools and capabilities to each one of these threats as if it's real," Stangl told New Jersey 101.5.
Perpetrators can also face state or local charges for their actions. Most of the time, minors are not charged at the federal level.
Following tragedies that garner nationwide attention, law enforcement officials also typically experience an uptick in reports of suspicious activity from the public. That's a good thing, as officials rely heavily on this tactic to curb potential attacks.
"We want information, but we want the right information," said Jared Maples, director of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.
NJOHSP offers four ways for the public to "say something" when they "see something":