Bomb threats are an uncommon occurrence, however, should be taken seriously whenever encountered. Following established bomb threat procedures designed and implemented by organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is essential in ensuring a safe resolution to any bomb threat. These procedures have been created using the latest and most pertinent intelligence regarding the typical characteristics and progressions of bomb threats.
Generally, in these cases, they are the work of pranksters who wish to cause anxiety and panic amongst their target. However, considering the worst case scenario, all bomb threats are to be treated with seriousness.
This will usually involve the suspect calling the offices of a building that they have targeted and orally stating their threat to the receiver of the call. Commonly, the suspect is not targeting a particular person when choosing who to direct their threat to, rather, they simply wish to use an avenue that will allow for their threat to be disseminating and spread as quickly as possible.
Almost all bomb threat procedures regarding threats made through phone involve staying calm and getting as much information as possible out of the caller. One of the most important rules in this situation is to refrain from hanging up the phone. The caller should be the one that ultimately ends the conversation. The reasoning behind refraining from hanging up is because the chances of noting useful information for authorities increases significantly as the call progresses longer and longer.
The receiver of the call, once calm, should prioritize getting specific information regarding the whereabouts of the bomb, what the bomb looks like and the motive behind the threat. Furthermore, the caller should take notes regarding the tone of voice of the caller, such as whether they are nervous or aggressive. If possible, the receiver should physically or digitally take notes throughout the call. All information regardless of how insubstantial it may seem at the time may be immensely helpful to authorities at a later time.
Once the message of the note or email is clear, the receiver should immediately contact police. The reason behind why the email or note shouldn’t be deleted is that it may include important clues to identify the suspect. Often times, a suspect may have a particular type of handwriting or prose that is known to authorities.
Once the initial threat has been received and communication with the suspect has ended, all bomb threat procedures will require immediate contacting of authorities. While contacting authorities, the person that received the threat should outline as much information as possible. As mentioned, this includes the specific details the suspect disseminating if a call was made. In the case of an email or note, any information outlined in the message should be relayed as soon as possible.
When the threat has been received and police have become involved, the next stage often involves determining the threat level. A low threat level is usually when the initial threat is very vague and no specifics are provided, indicating a likelihood of a prank. A medium level threat involves a threat that contains some specifics, however, nothing concrete. A high-level threat is when the threat includes many details about the bomb and its location, as well as demands an explanation of motive.
Evacuation will involve evacuating all individuals residing within the building promptly, creating a large perimeter around each building outside to ensure safety in the case of an explosion. Sometimes, during an evacuation, certain individuals may be tasked with quickly checking rooms for suspicious items as they leave to highlight any areas where a potential bomb may be present.
Ultimately, the goal of bomb threat procedures is to ensure the safety of everyone involved while also gaining as much information on the suspect as possible. It’s for this reason that swift evacuation and cooperation with authorities, while also noting as much detail as possible about the suspect, are fundamental to successfully deal with bomb threats.