Northampton police may use student statements in high school threat investigation

by Fred Contrada, The Republican  |  published on January 13, 2013

Northampton police

Police are hoping that a statement signed by Northampton High School students to take threats seriously will give them a new lead in their investigation into a Dec. 19 incident that emptied the school shortly after the Newtown shootings.

A threatening note was found in one of the high school bathrooms that day, five days after a gunman killed 20 students and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Police and school officials evacuated the building shortly before the normal high school dismissal time.

On Dec. 21, students at the high school were asked to write a statement in reference to the threat acknowledging that they take such matter seriously and share the concern of police and school administrators about safety. The statement has been described as a joint effort by police, the high school administration and the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.

Police say they will use the statements to aid in their investigation of the threat, perhaps matching the handwriting with that of one of the students. Police Chief Russell P. Sienkiewicz said District Attorney David E. Sullivan has confirmed that the method is valid and legal.

Sienkiewicz has said that police take such threats seriously and noted the crime is punishable under state law by a minimum of three years in jail. He added Wednesday that it is also part of his department’s community care mission to identify and help troubled individuals.

“We disagree that it violates student rights,” he said.

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