Annex 25 - Bomb Threat

Objective

The objective of this annex is to define the actions and roles necessary to provide a coordinated emergency response by students, administration, faculty, support personnel, visitors and departments for Binghamton University during an emergency situation or disaster.  This plan provides personnel and departments with a general concept of potential emergency assignments before, during and following a bomb threat.

Situational Overview

Should Binghamton University experience a bomb threat, the university will determine the appropriate course of action based on the credibility of the threat and other contributing factors.  Safety is the top consideration and will guide all decisions.

A bomb threat may come to the attention of the receiver in various ways.  It is important to compile as much information as possible.

The majority of bomb threats are false and are primarily intended to elicit a response from the building occupants.  In the case of a written threat, it is vital that as few people as possible handle the document, as this is evidence that should be turned over to University Police.  If the threat should come via e‐mail or a social media application, make sure to save the information on your computer or smartphone.  Bomb threats were once primarily transmitted over the telephone, but as technology advances, they may be received in many forms.

Concept of Operations

Definitions

Suspicious Item: Any package, object or device that, due to information received, threat or circumstances under which it was found, suggests that it could contain explosives.

Hazardous Device: Any object or package that contains explosives. This includes military ordnance (e.g., grenades, artillery rounds), explosive materials (e.g., black powder, dynamite, blasting caps, 1/4" or 1/2" sticks, super M-80s), any substance suspected to be explosive material, and any object which may contain explosives and a source to detonate same.

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD): Any object that can be explosive, chemical, nuclear, biological or a combination of any of these. Weapons of mass destruction, chemical, nuclear or biohazard devices may also contain a small explosive dispersal charge or a mechanical dispersal method that may operate with similar mechanisms as a bomb.

FBI Classification of Bomb Threat Risk Levels

Low Level of Threat

A threat that poses a minimal risk to the victim and public safety.

    • Threat is vague and indirect. Information contained within the threat is inconsistent, implausible or lacks detail.
    • Threat lacks realism.
    • Content of the threat suggests person is unlikely to carry it out.
    • Threat is made by young child (under 9 or 10) and there is laughter in the background.
    • The caller is definitely known and has called numerous times.

Medium Level of Threat

A threat that could be carried out, although it may not appear entirely realistic.

    • Threat is more direct and more concrete than a low-level threat.
    • Wording in the threat suggests that the threatener has given some thought to how the act will be carried out.
    • There may be a general indication of a possible place and time (though these signs still fall well short of a detailed plan).
    • There is no strong indication that the individual has taken preparatory steps, although there may be some veiled reference or ambiguous or inconclusive evidence pointing to that possibility — an allusion to a book or movie that shows the planning of a violent act, or a vague, general statement about the availability of weapons.
    • There may be a specific statement seeking to convey that the threat is not empty: “I’m serious!” or “I really mean this!”

High Level of Threat

A threat that appears to pose an imminent and serious danger to the safety of others.

    • Threat is direct, specific and plausible. For example, “This is John Smith, I’m fed up with Mr. Jones yelling at me. There's a bomb under his desk.”
    • Threat suggests concrete steps have been taken toward carrying it out. For example, statements indicating that the individual has acquired or practiced with a weapon or has had the intended victim under surveillance.

Priorities

In the event a bomb threat is received, University Police will work with appropriate personnel (i.e. key staff members, local first responders, etc.) to search and identify any suspicious packages or items construed to be of an explosive nature.

If an explosive device is found, local first responders will take the lead role in mitigating the immediate hazard.  University Police shall coordinate all criminal investigations.

Expectations for Employees and Students

In the event of a bomb threat, faculty, staff and students should respond according to the information provided by first responders and any of the emergency notification systems.

If an employee or student receives the actual bomb threat, he/she should respond as follows:

    • Call (607) 777-2222 to report the incident.
    • Evacuate the building when instructed by a university official.

Receiving a Bomb Threat - Actions

Initial Actions

    • A suspicious-looking box, package, object, or container in or near your work area may be a bomb or explosive material.  Do not handle or touch the object.
    • Do not operate any power switch, and do not activate the fire alarm.

If There Is An Explosion:

    • Notify the command post.
    • The Incident Commander may evacuate the building immediately, unless there is a greater threat by moving people outside.
    • Be on the lookout for secondary devices.
    • Move well away from the site of the hazard to a safe location.
    • Use stairs only; do not use elevators.

If You Receive a Bomb Threat (via telephone):

    • If you receive a threatening call (bomb, or other physical harm, etc.) do not hang up.  Have someone else notify the command post from another extension if possible.  Attempt to engage the caller in conversation and obtain as much information as possible.
    • Stay calm and keep your voice calm.
    • Pay close attention to details.  Talk to the caller to obtain as much information as possible.
    • Take notes. Ask questions:
      • What exactly is the threat?
      • When will it explode?
      • Where was the bomb left?
      • Where is it right now?
      • What does it look like?
      • What kind of bomb is it?
      • Who placed the bomb?
      • Who is the target?
      • Why was the bomb placed?
      • What is your address?
      • What is your name?
    • Observe the caller's speech:
      • Is the voice familiar in any way?
      • Male or female?
      • Young or old?
      • Speech patterns (Accent? Stutter?)
      • Emotional state (Angry? Agitated? Calm?)
      • Background noise (traffic, people talking and accents, music and type, etc.)
    • Write down other data:
      • Date and time of call
      • How threat was received (letter, note, telephone)
    • Call University Police and submit your notes from the telephone call or the bomb threat (letter or note).
    • Follow University Police 's instructions.

If You Receive a Bomb Threat (via E-mail, Letter or Note):

    • If you receive a bomb threat via e-mail, letter or note, notify the command post and save your note as evidence to be turned in to University Police.

In Any Bomb Threat Situation:

    • Check your work area for unfamiliar items.  Do not touch suspicious items; report them to the command post.
    • Take personal belongings when you leave.
    • Leave doors and windows open; do not turn light switches on or off.
    • Use stairs only; do not use elevators.
    • Move people well away from the building.

Subsequent Procedures/Information

Employees can be of assistance to University Police in several ways.  Employees will be more familiar with their work area than first responders.  As the search is conducted, employees may be asked to identify boxes or objects in their work area.  If an evacuation of an academic building is necessary, classes may be delayed, dismissed or relocated.

If a suspicious device, package, bag, etc. is discovered, University Police will notify the local bomb squad for assistance.  The decision to resume normal activities in the building will be made jointly by the NYS University Chief of Police or a designee.

Search Team Responsibilities

    • Search teams are normally configured in pairs and the initial searches are conducted by a university official and an individual familiar with the layout and configuration of the area being searched.
    • The search teams must be aware that they are to only perform a visual search and must not attempt to neutralize, remove or make contact with any suspected device.
    • If a strange or suspicious object is located, it should not be touched.  The location and description should be immediately reported to University Police.  The search team finding the suspicious device should make a sketch of the area to enhance the bomb squad’s ability to locate the device when it arrives.
    • When a suspicious device is found, University Police and the local bomb squad will identify an exclusion zone.
    • When an exclusion zone is identified, it will be taped off and university officials will be responsible for ordering the evacuation of the area.
    • Search team members shall not approach the device or re-enter the secured area until the device has been removed, neutralized or declared safe by an on-site bomb squad technician.

Search Technique

Use two-person search teams if possible and follow these steps:

    • Exterior Search: Searches should originate at the building’s exterior.  Particular attention should be given to fences, bushes, garbage cans, vehicles, fence poles, gates, storage areas, walls, windows, recessed building areas, drainpipes, electric cable areas and telephone and plumbing inlets.
    • Interior Searches: Following a thorough exterior search, interior searches should begin at the lower-most level. 
      • Search logical bomb areas first: restrooms, stairwells, office areas, boiler room, etc.
      • Enter the room, close your eyes and listen for any unusual sounds or clockwork mechanisms.
      • Go around the walls and proceed toward the center of the room.
      • Divide the area and select a search height.  Start from the bottom and work up.
      • Start back-to-back with another search team member and work around the room toward each other.
      • Place a piece of tape across the outside doorjamb or mark with chalk in a conspicuous manner when search is complete.
    • Ensure that the assembly area or locations to which students, faculty, staff, support personnel and visitors are directed to occupy is searched before they occupy the area.

It is important to remember that a bomb can be placed anywhere: therefore, a complete search should be made.  Depending on available time, make as complete a search as possible.

    • Report back to the Command Post when entire search is complete or suspicious item is found.
    • IF A BOMB OR SUSPICIOUS DEVICE IS FOUND, IT SHOULD NOT BE TOUCHED. Report the device to the Command Post or University Police.  The handling of bombs and any bombing investigation is solely an official police function.  At no time should students, administrators, faculty, staff or visitors attempt to touch or move a bomb, suspected device or package.

Decision to Evacuate

The decision to evacuate a university facility shall be made after a thorough evaluation of the information available, including but not limited to:

    • Nature of the threat.
    • Specificity of location and time of detonation.
    • Circumstances related to the threat (i.e. political climate, series of events leading to the threat, etc.).
    • Discovery of a device or unusual package, luggage, etc.

University Police may delegate/dispatch a search team and will organize the search.  Other emergency units will be alerted to the threat and asked to stand by for further instructions.  Persons leaving the building should report to a designated assembly area for further instructions.  It is imperative the designated assembly area be declared safe before allowing evacuees to occupy the area to prevent death or injury due to a secondary explosion.

Evacuation

If the decision to evacuate is made, remain calm and avoid panic.  Walk to the nearest exit and move to the designated primary or secondary emergency assembly area or as instructed by University Police:

    • Make sure others are evacuating.
    • Evacuate exactly as you are instructed.  If you see something that appears to be suspicious or if a bomb is found, DO NOT move, jar or touch the object or anything attached to it.  Leave it in place.
    • Notify University Police immediately if you find something that looks suspicious.

In any bomb threat situation:

    • Check your work area for unfamiliar items.  Do not touch suspicious items; report them immediately to University Police at ext. 7-2222 or (607) 777-2222.
    • Take your personal belongings when you leave.
    • Leave doors and windows open.  Do not turn light switches on or off.
    • Use stairs only.  Do not use elevators.
    • Move well away from the building and follow instructions provided by University Police.

FBI Bomb Threat Stand-Off Card

 FBI Bomb threat card

 

Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Safe Standoff Distance Cheat Sheet

 IED standoff sheet

 

O.    Differences between a chemical, biological and radiological agent:

Chemical and biological agents as well as radioactive materials can be dispersed in the air we breathe, the water we drink, or on surfaces we physically contact.  Dispersion methods may be as simple as opening a container, using conventional (garden) spray devices, or as elaborate as detonating an improvised explosive device.

Chemical Incidents

Characterized by the rapid onset of medical symptoms (minutes to hours) and easily observed signatures (colored residue, dead foliage, pungent odor, dead insects and animals).

Biological Incidents

Characterized by the onset of symptoms in hours to days.  Typically, there will be no characteristic signatures because biological agents are usually odorless and colorless.  Because of the delayed onset of symptoms in a biological incident, the area affected may be greater due to the movement of infected individuals.

Radiological Incidents

Characterized by the onset of symptoms, if any, in days to weeks or longer. Typically, there will be no characteristic signatures because radioactive materials are usually odorless and colorless. Specialized equipment is required to determine the size of the affected area, and whether the level of radioactivity presents an immediate or long-term health hazard.  Because radioactivity is not detectable without special equipment, the affected area may be greater due to the migration of contaminated individuals.  At the levels created by most probable sources, not enough radiation would be generated to kill people or cause severe illness.  In a radiological incident generated by a “dirty bomb”, or Radiological Dispersal Device (RDD), in which a conventional explosive is detonated to spread radioactive contamination, the primary hazard is from the explosion. However, certain radioactive materials dispersed in the air could contaminate up to several city blocks, creating fear and possibly panic and requiring potentially costly cleanup.

Last Updated: 2/8/16