The arrest of three Moffat County High School students on charges that they plotted to blow up the high school and the county courthouse is a reminder that no community can presume to be immune from such disturbing threats.
Thus far, only limited details about the incident have been revealed, so it is premature to make judgments about the students charged in the case. Other than saying they believed the students posed a credible and serious threat, police have not revealed what evidence they have gathered or how far the students might have gone in carrying out their plot.
Similarly, school officials have refused to disclose much about the incident. But it's hard to blame them for their reluctance weighing the students' rights to privacy with the need to inform the public about school safety issues is a delicate balancing act.
Family members of the students have suggested police and school officials handled the incident inappropriately. And there is a sense among some that, in the wake of Columbine, police and school officials have become overly sensitive to what teen-agers say.
"Everyone who has called us who knows the boys said they can't imagine them doing anything like that," said the mother of one of the students. "They could see the boys maybe spouting off and saying something stupid, but not doing something like that. The police overreacted."
But given what has happened at public schools in recent years, including Columbine, it seems silly to suggest that police could overreact to any kind of school threat, whether the students simply said something stupid, wrote out their threats or actually took concrete steps toward blowing up the school. Certainly that was the sense of other parents. Said the mother of one Craig junior: "Where your kid's safety is concerned, you can't overreact."
The three Craig youths are in a juvenile facility in Grand Junction and are facing serious charges of conspiracy to commit murder and participation in terrorist training.
Whether those charges hold up remains to be seen, but give police and school officials in Craig credit.
They have succeeded in sending a message that threats against the community's school will be taken seriously and dealt with severely.
That's the way it has to be.