Leniency won’t deter threats

WC Editorial Board

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Cameron McKoy, the former Western Illinois University freshman who called nine bomb threats on University residence halls last fall, was sentenced to one year in federal prison and paying $43,000 in restitution earlier this month.

And though he received one year, he will be given credit for the 8 months he’s served since November. It’s likely that McKoy will only spend two more months behind bars. So, in total, that’s 10 months he will have spent in jail.

10 months. That’s it.

McKoy – who originally faced serving 10 years but was given a year for having no previous criminal record – caused countless students too afraid to stay in their rooms to be displaced from their residence halls, and forced numerous law enforcement agents from various levels to work around the clock to ensure everyone’s safety.

Yet McKoy will be free sometime in October.

And while some would argue $43,000 is a lot of money for one student to pay, it still does not serve as a sufficient punishment for what McKoy did to the University. Without question, the University spent more than $43,000 on the bomb searches, extra police personnel and the RAs asked to man check-in stations during the two weeks of threats.

Additionally, in a post Sept. 11 era, calling in a bomb threat should mean severe punishment. If one were to even mention a bomb in an airport, he or she would be punished to the fullest extent. Why doesn’t the same apply here, where thousands of students were also in possible danger?

And what does this mean for the future? If people begin calling in bomb threats like they call for Chinese take-out, how will people react when a real threat happens, like the one made by Jared Cano, the Tampa Bay teen who was caught this week with plans to create “another Columbine?” Does this mean Western should have a bomb squad in case someone thinks it might be funny to call in another threat?

Well, here is some news for Cameron McKoy and any other student interested in calling in a bomb threat: It’s not funny. McKoy got off easy. Hopefully, his punishment will be enough to deter anyone from trying again, but if for some reason another Western student decides to create a spectacle, we hope he or she is punished to the fullest extent of the law.

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