Written by: Greg Ellifritz
Within the last couple weeks, dozens of schools have been targeted by hoax bomb and active killer threats. Check out some of the news articles below for details.
Let’s use this opportunity to have a brief discussion about bomb threats.
Think about why a person who has actually placed a bomb would call in a threat. The only reason he would call in the threat is if he DOESN’T want anyone to get hurt. If that’s his goal, he will be as specific and convincing as possible to get people out of the danger zone.
All of these non-specific “there’s a bomb in the building” threats are hoaxes. A legit bomb threat will sound something like: “I placed a bomb in the first floor janitor’s closet. It’s set to go off in 10 minutes or whenever the closet door is opened. Get everyone out of the building in the next 10 minutes or people will die.”
Do you see the difference between the two communications strategies?
It actually places MORE people in danger when you evacuate for every non-specific bomb threat. Is it easier to place a large explosive device inside a public building or leave it in a car in the parking lot where everyone is evacuating to?
If the bomber knows you are going to evacuate, he’ll just place the bomb in the evacuation zone and call in a threat. Or even easier, he’ll call in a threat and set up on the evacuation site with a rifle to shoot all the evacuees. End result of either scenario: lots of dead people.
– Don’t evacuate public locations because of non-specific bomb threats. By doing so, you are actually placing the building occupants in more danger.
– Only evacuate when the bomb threat is both specific and believable.
– Don’t evacuate to a parking lot where bigger bombs can be easily hidden.
– Most hand-carried bombs have a limited range inside a building. If you get a very specific threat providing the bomb location, it may be safer just to move everyone to a part of the building farthest away from the bomb rather than taking them outside.
Similar advice holds true for active killer “Swatting” calls. If an active killer is shooting up a school you are likely to be hearing shots. You will also be getting multiple calls from victims and witnesses. A single active killer call is likely to be fake.
Panicked mandatory evacuation is not the best solution for either the active killer “Swatting” call or the bomb threat.