While bomb threats in the past have sometimes been considered a joke by the perpetrators, no one is laughing following Sept. 11, 2001. The events of 9-11 have shown that America is no longer immune to acts of terrorism, whether from domestic or foreign interests.
The suspected bomb at a Terre Haute job site located at the corner of 1st and Ohio Streets on Oct. 24 was proven a hoax, but if a bomb threat occurs in Clay County, local law enforcement is ready.
"Ninety-nine percent of the time these reports are proven to be hoaxes," Brazil Police Chief Mark Loudermilk said. He helped update the standard operating proceedures involving bomb cases now in use by the Brazil City Police Department. "Law enforcement has to take each one seriously and respond to it as if it were real."
When a bomb threat is reported to authorities, three basic steps are implemented by law enforcement agencies:
- Law enforcement and emergency units are dispatched to the area where a bomb threat or suspicious package has been discovered. Upon arrival, officers will evaluate the situation, implement a search for the device and begin the evacuation procedures if needed. People in danger will be moved to the recommended safe distance of 1,000 feet from the area and requested to remain there until further notified.
- The Indiana State Police Bomb Disposal Unit is notified and the closest bomb technicians are dispatched to the area. These are the only individuals that are allowed to actually handle, disturb or remove any suspected bomb or explosive material from the area.
- Dispatch personnel will remain on the telephone line with the person who has reported the incident to collect detailed information and/or relay instructions until law enforcement personnel arrive on the scene to take over the investigation. Information is taken, such as the name of the person reporting the bomb, details of the threat, description and location of the suspected bomb, reason it is suspected to be a bomb, whether it has been disturbed or moved and in what way the suspected bomb was moved.
"Our first priority in these types of cases is public safety," Chief Loudermilk said. "Once we have the people safe, then we begin the search of the premises."
Loudermilk said that most bomb threats by telephone are hoaxes by individuals who want to disrupt normal activities. However, no bomb threat should be dismissed as a hoax, and the supervisor of the facility that has been threatened and the proper authorities need to be notified immediately after the caller hangs up.
Potential bombing incidents constitute a serious threat to people, assets, business operations and facilities. That is why many businesses and municipal facilities have standard operating procedures in place should bomb threats occur.
"People need to familiarize themselves with their employer's policies regarding evacuation procedures in case of a natural disaster or terrorist attack," Clay County Chief Deputy Doug Barr told The Brazil Times. "Every public building has an evacuation route posted, usually next to the elevators, and people really need to take the time to look them over. There are all possible types of disasters that can occur at any time, and people should be prepared for anything to happen."
Law enforcement and emergency personnel urge people to learn what to do in an emergency in order to remain calm in the face of adversity. Both Loudermilk and Barr agree that panic only gets more people hurt than it helps.