Chief questions release of student charged with school threats

MILLERSVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – A massive investigation involving threats at Penn Manor High School has not played out the way Millersville police Chief John Rochat would have envisioned.

“It’s appalling,” Rochat wrote on the department’s Facebook page.

Rochat says police found threats at the high school on Friday and Monday. They spent more than 100 hours investigating and eventually arrested a 17-year-old student.

Investigators charged the student with two felonies, but Rochat said when the teen was taken to juvenile probation, he was sent home.

“This is serious stuff,” Rochat said. “What happens when it’s the real deal and I got to be up there and I have to be telling people their little child has been killed? That’s horrific. We got to get serious about this.”

Lancaster County Juvenile Probation said it relied on a tool that’s used statewide to determine what should happen to the child.

“I have to trust the system that assessments are being made,” said Richard Steele, executive director of the Juvenile Court Judges Commission.

Steele did not handle the case of the Penn Manor student. He said the tool that’s used is called the Pennsylvania Detention Risk Assessment Instrument.

He said that despite what others might have wanted, the student will eventually see his day in court.

“There’s a series of alternatives that can be used, and it isn’t just a matter of being locked up or unsupervised,” Steele said. “That seldom is the case.”

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