Lawmaker wants to make school hoax threats a felony

Aug 9, 2023, 8:00 PM

FILE - The Utah Capitol is shown on March 3, 2023, in Salt Lake City. A Utah lawmaker wants to make...

FILE - The Utah Capitol is shown on March 3, 2023, in Salt Lake City. A Utah lawmaker wants to make school hoax threats a second-degree felony. (Rick Bowmer /Associated Press)

(Rick Bowmer /Associated Press)

SALT LAKE CITY — With a new school year rapidly approaching, state education officials are concerned about school hoax threats. And a Utah lawmaker wants to have a stiffer punishment associated with those types of incidents. 

Rep. Ryan Wilcox, R-Ogden, tells KSL NewsRadio that currently when someone makes a threat of violence toward a school, they can be charged differently from other similar cases. He wants to end all of that with a new bill.

He heads the school safety task force and is championing a new bill to make all school hoax threats second-degree felonies. No matter how the threat is made. 

“They will be felonies,” he said. “There will be serious consequences for engaging in this kind of terroristic activity.”

Currently, he says not enough is being done to prevent such incidents from happening.

“We don’t have enough of a consequence to be a deterrent,” he said. “So, to the extent that’s it’s an argument that deterrents do anything. Right now, it’s just not.”

Wilcox, law enforcement personnel, educators and medical staff all say these kinds of incidents are becoming more common.

“Just let me be clear, these hoax incidents can take various forms including emails, letters, and altered social media images and screenshots,” Wilcox said.

Mark Jones contributed to this article. 

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Lawmaker wants to make school hoax threats a felony