In the wake of a weapons threat incident at Bayport-Blue Point High School district leaders are applauding the response of Suffolk Police and plan to talk with students about mobile device use during such events.
Michael Rodriguez, a 17-year-old Patchogue teen and B-BP student, was arrested November 19 for allegedly making a false report about a weapon in the high school.
According to school officials, Rodriguez called 911 and then hung up. A 911 dispatcher returned the call to ask about the emergency and that’s when the threat was reported by Rodriguez, according to high school principal Dr. Timothy Hearney.
The incident, which occurred about 12:30 p.m., prompted police to send several patrol cars to the school building. Upon learning about the threat administrators decided to lockdown the high school as well as nearby Academy Elementary so police could conduct a search of student bags and lockers. No weapons were found in the two-hour search effort and students were released at normal time.
During a work session of the school board last week Hearney stated police were able to trace the location of the phone used to make the call and identified Rodriguez as the alleged caller. Patch has not been able to determine Rodriguez’s arraignment or court date as of press time. The false report charge is a misdemeanor.
In relating the incident information to board members Hearney repeatedly noted the exceptional work of the police department, as well as school staff and administrators.
“The police were incredible. They did an outstanding effort,” he said. “The staff and students acted exceptional and I couldn’t be more impressed by how everyone handled it,” he added.
While administrators say all policies and procedures worked as expected, there is a need to talk with students about texting, emailing or making calls to friends and families during such circumstances.
The focus isn’t on stopping students from getting in touch with family, but to ensure the right information is being provided to family and friends.
“This is one of those things where you get false information being disseminated and we want to keep everyone calm,” said Hearney, noting some initial student reports reportedly stated there was a bomb.
Hearney told the board he plans on talking with students before the holiday break to remind students of protocols and why they need to be followed. There is no formal policy in place regarding mobile device use during such incidents, according to a district spokesperson.
“This is a tough thing to manage and a challenge but we need to explain to the students the seriousness of this kind of event. Things have changed so dramatically in last couple of years [with regard to nationwide school related incidents],” said Hearney.