04-03 Captain Mark Harcrow

PPD Asst. Chief, Capt. Mark Harcrow

The police response to a threat of violence at Palestine High School last week cost the city about $1,000, and it left other parts of the city more vulnerable to crime. But police said the response was appropriate.

“You simply can't put a price on children's safety,” Palestine Police Capt. Mark Harcrow told the Herald-Press on Tuesday.

Last week, Anderson County saw two schools threatened with acts of violence, resulting in campus-wide lockdowns, each getting a heavy police response.

In Palestine, the police response cost just under $1,000. That covered the nine PPD officers that responded for four-hours to Palestine High School on March 27.

The response came after a note, threatening violence, was found on campus grounds.

“We have to treat each call as if there is an actual emergency,” Harcrow said. “We responded appropriately, as if there was an actual school incident.”

Critics have said that an overwhelming response to such a threat could serve to motivate copycats. Neighboring Elkhart High School received a similar threat only 24 hours later.

Harcrow, who was not involved with the response-team at Palestine High School, disagreed.

“It was a planned response,” he said. “We didn't get a phone call and just speed down there with our sirens blaring. However, when you're investigating a call like this, you can only be so covert.”

Harcrow said the real cost to such false alarms is not fiscal, but in the manpower taken from the city. Such false alarms, he said, are serious offenses with serious consequences for the perpetrators.

“A false alarm or report, involving a public primary or secondary school, is a state jail felony,” Harcrow said. “That's punishable by up to two years in jail, and a fine of up to $10,000.”

Harcrow said the origins of the threatening note remain under investigation.

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