Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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May 16, 2014

High school has wrong student arrested for bomb threat

FRANKLIN (AP) — Officials in a suburban Indianapolis school district asked police to arrest a high school student with a mental health condition who falsely confessed to a bomb threat, a prosecutor said.

Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper told the Daily Journal that Center Grove officials called in school police to arrest the student after he confessed to administrators following the April 15 threat at the high school. The student was taken to the Johnson County Juvenile Detention Center in Franklin but it was not clear whether he was held overnight.

Cooper said the student didn’t understand what was happening and officials conducted an inadequate investigation. He said school police should have checked the surveillance video and interviewed students before having that student arrested.

The student should have been read his rights and allowed to consult his parents, and school police should have been involved in the investigation from the beginning, Cooper said. Center Grove is the only district in Johnson County with its own police force.

“Once it becomes criminal, I want the cops doing the investigation,” Cooper said, adding that school officials should have considered the student’s mental condition and realized the confession was not true.

The first student was later released and a second student was arrested.

Center Grove school officials disputed Cooper’s account.

“I can assure you the Center Grove Police Department was involved in this investigation from the start and that both CGPD and CGHS administrators followed all policies and procedures,” Superintendent Richard Arkanoff said in an email. “We appreciate the close working relationship we have with the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office and the Juvenile Detention Center. The best interest of the child is at the heart of everything we do.”

Cooper had the first student’s records expunged.

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