Bomb threat proves to be a hoax

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NAUGATUCK — Naugatuck High School was placed in lockdown for a couple hours Thursday due to a bomb threat that proved to be a hoax.

According to police, a bomb threat was called in at about 11 a.m. Thursday. The school was placed in Code Yellow status, which means all students stayed in place within the building and no one was allowed to leave or enter the school.

Western School was also placed in a modified lockdown due to its close proximity to the high school, police said.

Connecticut State Police were called in and conducted a sweep of the high school with police dogs. No explosive devices were found and the lockdown was lifted shortly before 1 p.m.

Naugatuck police are investigating the threat.

As news spread of the lockdown, some parents questioned on social media why students weren’t evacuated.

Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke said many factors are taken into consideration when determining how to respond to a bomb threat, including the credibility of the threat. In this case, she said, the credibility of the threat was determined to be low. So, it was decided not to evacuate students.

“The Department of Homeland Security does not recommend immediate evacuation when there’s a bomb threat. Each incident needs to be evaluated on its own merits when it happens. A decision to evacuate is made in consultation with law enforcement and security, which happened in this instance,” Locke said.

Other factors, like the current climate of the school, the recent history of bomb threats, and any other safety concerns, such as the ongoing construction at the high school, were also taken under consideration in the school’s response, Locke said.

Naugatuck police spokesman Lt. Bryan Cammarata echoed Locke’s sentiments in a post on the police department’s Facebook page.

He wrote many different factors, including whether exams are scheduled for that day, if there had been unrest amongst the students, or if there had been rumors about a student threatening to harm others, are taken into consideration.

Cammarata added that evacuating the building may have put students and staff at more risk because it is more common for people to place explosive devices outside of a building.

“Any evacuation that requires movement of the evacuees through lobbies, halls, playgrounds and parking lots might increase the risk of injury through detonation,” he wrote.

The circumstances of the incident today made all of those involved in the decision-making process feel that it was safer to freeze movement within and secure everyone in place, he wrote.

Locke said how to proceed in cases like this is determined by the school’s principal and head of security.

“Very early on they determined the credibility of the threat was low and the safest thing to do was holding the students in place. The state police commended our administration and police department for doing a good job,” Locke said. “All the kids were safe throughout the process.”

Naugatuck High Principal Jan Saam referred all questions to Locke.

Locke said if this type of threat were to happen again there could be a different response.

“There is no one procedure for a bomb threat. If you get a bomb threat you evaluate all these factors and the site leader makes a decision. It’s not always going to be the same decision,” Locke said.

Ultimately, Locke said, the decision comes down to protecting the students.

“Our main concern is keeping the children safe. The actions taken today did just that,” Locke said.