The New Mexico School Threat has a wide-ranging ripple effect across the country — including Bremerton.
I awoke last Friday morning to word that Bremerton High School was canceling classes after a screenshot of a troubling message was sent from a student to an educator at BHS. In the message, another apparent student was threatening to come to “BHS” [Take note of this] with an AR-15, the same type of firearm used in the Florida massacre.
In light of the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, the Bremerton School District prudently chose to close the high school. Sgt. Keith Sargent and Capt. Tom Wolfe spearheaded the Bremerton Police Department’s response to the threat.
During an early morning meeting, a school district employee discovered that the screen shot image was actually from an incident in New Mexico the day before.
In that case, a 16-year-old admitted to creating a secondary Snapchat account and sharing it to himself and then sharing it with others. He told the detectives he had no intention of shooting up the school, and that he does not own any weapons. He said he only did it to see what kind of response he would get from the school and law enforcement. He got one, all right.
The Bremerton School District was not the only one impacted by the 16-year old’s message. It disrupted schools all over the country, particularly those with the initials “BHS,” as used in the threatening message. A Google search found similar scares in Texas, Minnesota, Alabama and Blaine, Wash.
In light of what happened in Florida on Feb. 14 and countless other schools since Columbine, we take these threats seriously. We will investigate and pursue charges, when appropriate, against those who make them.
We understand that in the majority of cases, these threats are made by youth for attention, out of curiosity or as a prank. Most have no intention or capability to carry out the threat. They don’t have the mental maturity or life experience to foresee the impacts of their bogus threats. That being said, we will still act on the threats as if the person has the will and capacity to carry out the threat. It’s like the post-Sept. 11 days. It took people a while to recognize that saying the word “bomb” in an airport or on the plane had serious consequences.
Radical recruiting: the long game
Recruiting top-tier police officers can be difficult. To that end, BPD is exploring innovative ways to fill our ranks down the road. In the spirit of the military’s Early Entry Program, BPD is adopting the Infant Entry Program. Our first recruit is the adorable, 5-month-old Claire Grace Garland. In the photo, she is being sworn in by her proud grandpa, ace investigator Detective Marty Garland. She will be attending the police academy in 2040.
She won’t need a gun. Her ever-present smile will completely disarm any ne’er-do-wells. Thank you to Martin Jr. and Charity Garland for committing your daughter to this career path.
Another hero returns
Veteran Kent Mayfield, 42, returned to a light-duty assignment in Detectives after being shot in the line of duty last December. Detective Mayfield, being the wily officer who eschews publicity, managed to elude the fanfare of an all-hands welcome-back by slipping in the back door. We will fix him later.
Falling through the cracks
Last Friday we had another sad case, repeated daily in our community, where our officers are the last option in dealing with a failed mental health system.
City workers were trying to work in the Madrona Forrest near Wheaton Way and Schley Boulevard.
A mentally ill transient had set up an illegal camp in the area and was yelling at the workers. His menacing behavior hindered the workers’ ability to get the job done. They called the police. Officer Rivera and Officer Corn arrived to find this was the same man who nearly forced a deadly confrontation with Officer Corn and injured Officer Rivera the week prior. In that incident, which required Officer Rivers to be treated for a hand injury, the man was released on his personal recognizance by the court the next day.
After successfully dealing with this situation, which allowed the city workers to safely continue their work, the same officers were called to a clothing donation bin where the male transient’s girlfriend was hiding inside, trying to escape imaginary “kidnappers” who constantly torment her troubled mind. There is nothing funny about this situation. As Cpl. Vertefeuille pointed out, this woman is in a constant state of irrational fear of being kidnapped. She needs help, but didn’t meet any criteria for an involuntary commitment so there was not too much anybody could do for her, except to help her out of the bin.
Until mental health services are properly funded and the bar is lowered on what it takes to get someone like this into treatment, this woman will continue to fall through the cracks. I am proud of the compassion Rivera and Corn displayed as they attempted to help the woman as best they could.
Keep walking northbound next time
Officers Corey and Faidley were called to the Mobil Station on Wheaton Way after a Kitsap Transit driver refused to allow a subject on his bus. The subject was yelling and acting like he was high on uppers. The officers were unable to get through to him and watched as he walked off down Wheaton Way. Officer Corey gave the suspect’s girlfriend a courtesy transport because even she wanted to get away from him.
About three hours later, Officer Corey was summoned to the Jack in the Box down the street for an unwanted subject who turned out to be the same guy he dealt with earlier. The man was demonstrating the same erratic behavior inside the restaurant and had to be talked into walking outside.
When the man continued his tirade and refused to leave the property, Officer Corey attempted to take him into custody and the fight was on. The rest of us responded with lights and sirens and we were able to get the guy into handcuffs. The man’s foolishness continued all the way to and at the jail, where he was treated to a crisis cell by the inn keepers.
— Cpl. Schaefer
Not a laughing matter … Well, maybe
Officer Guiney was dispatched to the Admiral Theater after an upset patron called because a woman in the crowd told her she was laughing too hard.
Did I mention it was a comedy show?
The reporting party (RP) was determined to have the police question the other woman and demanded Officer Guiney identify her. While the manager went to get the other woman, several theater employees told Officer Guiney that the RP was being very loud and they didn’t know why she was the upset one. The other woman spoke to Officer Guiney, but didn’t want to identify herself. He said “OK” and told the RP, sorry. In a huff, the RP said she’d be in to see the police chief this week.
— Corporal Schaefer
Jim Burchett is the interim chief of the Bremerton Police Department. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-473-5224.