FBI Charlotte
Public Affairs Specialist Shelley Lynch
August 22, 2018

FBI, CMPD, and CMS Launch Joint Awareness Campaign to Warn Everyone to #ThinkBeforeYouPost

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Charlotte Division, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD), and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) have launched a new joint awareness campaign to educate everyone about the consequences of making school threats and remind community members hoax threats are not a joke.

In the aftermath of tragic shootings such as the ones at Santa Fe High School and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the FBI, the CMPD, and law enforcement agencies around the country often see an increase in threats made to schools and other public buildings.

Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies follow up on every tip we receive from the public and analyze and investigate all threats to determine their credibility. Making false threats drains law enforcement resources and costs taxpayer money. When an investigation concludes there was a false or hoax threat made to a school, or another public place, state or federal charges can be levied. A federal charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

“As the new school year ramps up, we need the public to understand this message. Making threats against schools, even those you did not intend to carry out, can result in felony convictions at the state or federal level. It is not a joke,” said John A. Strong, special agent in charge of the FBI in North Carolina.

“The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is committed to keeping this community safe, and we know how quickly misinformation, especially on social media, can spread,” said CMPD Police Chief Kerr Putney. “We work in close partnership with the FBI, CMS, and the DA’s office to investigate these claims, arrest and charge individuals who make threats via social media. It is a serious crime that involves serious consequences.”

“CMS values the partnership with FBI and CMPD to issue this important call to keep our schools safe,” said CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox. “This is a strong message to our families that all law enforcement agencies are working cohesively on the issue of school safety.”

The chiefs of Cornelius, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, and Pineville also join forces to educate students to #ThinkBeforeYouPost. Each agency provides valuable school resource officers within Mecklenburg County.

Public assistance is crucial to our efforts to curb these hoax threats. We ask that the public continue to contact law enforcement to report any potential threats or suspicious activity. If there is any reason to believe the safety of others is at risk, we ask that the public immediately reach out to their local police department by calling 911.

Law enforcement officers spend countless hours investigating threats to determine their credibility. Schools lose precious learning time responding to these threats. And most importantly, a young person can ruin their future by making a hoax school threat. #ThinkBeforeYouPost.

The Charlotte #ThinkBeforeYouPost campaign will include digital billboard space around Charlotte and inside the Epicentre to promote the message. Adams Outdoor Advertising and Orange Barrel Media are graciously donating billboard space. The FBI, CMPD, local law enforcement agencies, and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System will promote the message across their social media platforms using art, public service announcement videos, and additional resources for parents and students.

What Should You Do to Help?

  • Don’t ever post or send any hoax threats ... period.
  • If you are a target of an online threat, alert your local law enforcement immediately.
  • If you see a threat of violence posted on social media, immediately contact local law enforcement or your local FBI office.
  • Notify authorities, but don’t share or forward the threat until law enforcement has had a chance to investigate—this can spread misinformation and cause panic.
  • If you are a parent or family member, know that some young people post these threats online as a cry for attention or as a way to get revenge or exert control. Talk to your child about the proper outlet for their stress or other emotions and explain the importance of responsible social media use and the consequences of posting hoax threats.