February 8, 2007

Bomb Threat Debate Nearly Causes City Council To Explode

Just days after a fake bomb threat had forced the evacuation of Scotland County R-I High School, debate over handling of the situation nearly caused the Memphis City Council to explode.

A proposal to seek reimbursement from the threat issuer for the cityís added police expenses caused by the scare turned into a heated argument.

Mayor Roger Gosney told the council that he had requested City Marshal John Myers to compile a list of expenses occurred above and beyond the normal call of duty that evening. The mayor indicated he wished to have those expenses turned over to the prosecution in an effort to seek reimbursement as part of the legal penalty for the criminal act.

Alderman Lucas Remley voiced his opposition to the idea. He stated the juvenile responsible for the bomb scare, as well as the juvenileís parents had suffered enough.

ďDo you really think that is the right thing to do, the moral thing to do?Ē Remley asked Gosney.

The mayor responded, saying he honestly felt like it was the appropriate steps for the city to take to recoup the tax money wasted by the prank.

ďThen you are not the man I thought you were,Ē was Remleyís response to the Mayor.

Alderman Brian Brush sided with Remley in opposition to the proposal. He stated that it is the police departmentís duty to respond to such emergencies.

Gosney noted that this was not a natural disaster, but was a man-made waste of city funds. He noted that the city normally seeks restitution when vandals damage city property, comparing this case to such acts.

Alderman Chris Feeney stated he felt the city should pursue restitution from the individual. He stated he felt sorry for the juvenile and for the parents, but by failing to punish the person responsible for the crime, the city was allowing the juvenile to escape accountability for the actions. He stated that this sends the wrong message to juveniles and ultimately encourages similar actions because they are aware there are no repercussions for their actions.

Remley blamed Feeney and his newspaper, for publishing a news article about the incident. He said it was the newspaper publisherís fault for glorifying the event in an effort to sell more papers and that the media was responsible for causing these types of incidents.

Feeney asked his fellow west ward alderman if he believed that the media should ignore such events and leave the public wondering why the high school ball game was suspended midstream and several hundred people were evacuated from the facility and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Ultimately Feeney returned the debate to point by offering a motion to submit the request for restitution to the prosecution in the case.

The motion died for a lack of a second.

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