State Rep. Stacey Newman (D-St. Louis) wants to make it a felony to threaten the security of a building or a public school. Newman’s proposal was prompted by television station KSDK’s test of a St. Louis school’s security measures in 2014.
That test triggered a school lockdown when a reporter entered Kirkwood High School, signed in, asked to use the bathroom but then disappeared. The man signed in with a name and phone number, as is the school’s normal procedure. When staff thought the man acted suspiciously they called the number he left. The man said he was a reporter, but the station wouldn’t confirm his story.
“You’ve got numerous dollars spent in security. You’ve got a swat team running on the roofs of buildings. You’ve got parents, teachers and staff petrified,” says Newman.
Hours later, the station verified that the individual was working on an assignment. That night, KSDK ran a story about breaches in the school’s security.
Rep. Justin Hill (R- Lake St. Louis) says the measure could be redundant.
“I wonder if we already have a statute that this person could’ve been charged under and just the prosecutor just didn’t do it,” says Hill.
“I’m not sure, depending on a school district or a municipality, how they would determine that this situation was actually a terrorist threat,” says Newman.
“It doesn’t need to be in quote a terrorist threat,” says Hill. “It just needs criminal negligence that something occurred that caused this. That’s like exactly what you said.”
A Missouri House committee is considering Newman’s proposal.