Sun Editorial: New rule ensures vital information is shared right away regarding school threats

Ideas to improve student safety being discussed at local, county and state level.

By Alan Bauer
The Sun

Officials from all levels of government — as well as parents, teachers, students and entire communities — are searching for ways to prevent school shootings. Adding police officers — or more officers — to schools, expanding the use of video cameras, making structural changes to school buildings and many more ideas are being discussed.

Recently, the state made a change in how, or, more specifically, when threats are reported to multiple law enforcement agencies. Gov. Murphy called the change “common sense.”

State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal updated a 2016 policy.

According to the AG’s office, when local law enforcement receives a threat to “any public location or mass gathering area,” county terrorism coordinators and the state Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness will be contacted immediately. The state then will immediately forward the information to the FBI. The old rule had a 24-hour window for passing along such information to Homeland Security. Threats to schools, workplaces and houses of worship were singled out by the AG.

As noted by the AG, this allows local law enforcement to continue to respond immediately to a reported threat, but it also means other levels of law enforcement will be able to assess the information right away and respond as necessary.

Getting all of the agencies that have the expertise and experience to handle threats involved immediately is, indeed, common sense. While a threat eventually might be deemed by law enforcement as “not credible,” every threat initially has to be treated as legitimate and getting all hands on deck is the right thing to do.

While many, if not all, law enforcement agencies already might have been sharing information in a timely manner, this change just clarifies the rule and ensures there’s no confusion.