South Florida schools are increasing security following the recent emailed bomb attacks threatening to blow up public schools in Miami-Dade and Broward districts. Though the threats were later determined to be a hoax, in its aftermath, the districts have taken action to strengthen the security at district schools.
Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said despite the threats being invalid, the district is remaining vigilant, and “ought to be prepared, not fearful.” He said after the schools were reopened extra officers were deployed at some schools, and school security will remain on alert to protect students and staff. “I think we need to be ready,” Carvalho said.
Broward County’s superintendent Robert Runcie, who confirmed increases in security at county schools, said he doesn’t want the normal activities at schools to be disrupted by “hysteria and anxiety from these hoaxes.”
But head of a Miami security company, Cornell Walsh, said he’s still concerned about the recent trend of hoaxes directed at schools in South Florida. “
While these threats thankfully prove to be hoaxes, security officials don’t know if one will be real,” said Walsh. You don’t want the school population to lapse into thinking all threats will be hoaxes. The region’s security authorities must continue to take these threats extremely seriously, and conduct investigation to find the perpetuators. You can never tell if these so-called hoaxes are leading to something real.”
Brent Kirkland says he was preparing to leave their home for school in South Miami when they heard about the threats, but “never felt fearful.” He said, “If we succumb to the fear being perpetuated around us, we will no longer live normal lives. Everyone at school and elsewhere need to be constantly aware of their surroundings, but try not to live in fear.”
Meanwhile, addressing security concerns at the tertiary level, the Council of Presidents of Florida state colleges have submitted a proposal to the state Legislature for $74 million to enhance campus security. The proposed funds are to be used over a three-year period to improve security on campuses, train security officers and purchase security equipment.
Earlier this year, the State University System requested the inclusion of $14 million in Florida’s 2016 budget to strengthen police security, and $6.2 million to improve student counseling at Florida’s 12 state universities including FAU and FIU in South Florida.
Walsh said this marks a much-needed, crucial step for public universities, as “security at some state colleges need to be improved, as some have no campus police.”