FBI campaign warns against making fake threats to schools and other public places

NORFOLK, Va. - A new campaign announced Wednesday by the Federal Bureau of Investigation aims to put a stop to 'hoax' threats against schools and other public places.

The "Think Before You Post" campaign comes just days after a teenager opened fire in his Texas high school, killing ten, and three months after that shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

“After Parkland, there was an uptick all across the nation including Hampton Roads in reporting," said Christina Pullen, Public Affairs Officer from the FBI's Norfolk office, regarding a growing number of threats against schools across the region in the months since. "We want to make sure people are encouraged to report. We want people to call us, but it’s not a joke. What we’re concerned about are those folks who post things intentionally to activate law enforcement.”

Pullen says the fake threats pull resources away from actual investigations. The consequences can be devastating.

“That has an effect on the safety of the community. That takes us away from the job we’re trying to do," she said.

Because federal agents take every tip seriously, Pullen tells News 3, fake threats come with serious punishments.

“It can be anything from a misdemeanor on the local level to a federal indictment," she said.

The FBI says anyone who does see something suspicious is encouraged to report it whether they know it's real or not. Pullen suggests callers try to gather as many details as possible and to let agents know if other law enforcement departments have been contacted.