Bomb threats are part of being involved in a highly visible industry. There is always the possibility that the next bomb threat received may be real. Therefore, it is extremely important that the procedures established for handling a bomb threat are understood and followed.
When a bomb threat has been received the police and the University of Maryland University College Security Office must be notified immediately.
If You Receive a Bomb Threat
Bomb threats are usually delivered by telephone and are usually given to the first person who answers the telephone. The goal is to keep the caller on the phone as long as possible. It is extremely important that the person receiving the threat record exactly what was said. The caller should engage in conversation to obtain as much information as possible about the location of the bomb, when it is to be denoted, why it is in the building, and who is responsible. Attention should be given to any background noises, tones, or accents which might help in identifying the caller.
- Use the UMUC bomb threat checklist to record all pertinent information during or after the call.
- Be calm, courteous, listen, and do not interrupt the caller.
- Keep the caller talking.
- Using a bomb threat form, ask the following:
- Where is the bomb located?
- When will it go off?
- Why is the bomb placed where it is?
- What kind of bomb is it?
- What is the caller's name?
- Advise the caller that a bomb could cause injury or death to innocent persons.
- Write down the exact words used by the caller and any details that are obvious, such as:
- The caller’s gender.
- Characteristics of the caller's voice: an accent, loud, quiet, intoxicated, deep voice, high-pitched, or raspy voice.
- Patterns of speech: fast, slow, stuttering, or clear and distinct.
- Apparent attitude of the caller: laughing, crying, angry, coherent, calm, or self-righteous.
- Listen for any background noises heard during the call, such as:
- Music or party noises
- Public address announcements
If the bomb threat is nonspecific (no location or time of detonation is given), the threat may be a hoax. The police, along with the locations' security department or property management will decide on the proper course of action. The decision may include a building evacuation or building search. The decision to evacuate must be made after considering many subjective factors and in many cases is determined by the philosophy of the local agency responsible for handling bomb threats. In general, the decision to evacuate should be made on the apparent legitimacy of the threat.
Examples that may constitute a legitimate threat:
- An unusual or out-of-place object found during a search.
- The threat is directed toward a specific group staying at the hotel.
- The bomb threat caller states a motive.
- The bomb threat caller calls back several times.
- The person receiving the call senses legitimacy based on voice inflection, tone, content of the threat, background noise, etc.
- The caller engages in dialogue.
- There has been a recent finding or explosion of a bomb at another college or hotel in the area.
One or all of the following could be used for a full evacuation. The police will direct what specific actions to take:
- The fire alarm will be set off for affected building/s.
- A PA announcement will be made.
- An emergency text alert will be sent.
- A floor-by-floor evacuation may be conducted by police, security, and property management staff.
If a partial evacuation of a specific area is ordered by the police, the following evacuation steps could be taken:
- A PA announcement made on the affected floors.
- A floor-by-floor evacuation of the designated area may be conducted by police, security, and property management staff.
If a location was given in the threat, a search of the area may be necessary. Once approved by the police, security and property management personnel will assist the police in the search. Other staff members, knowledgeable of the location, could be called upon to assist in the search.
- Remain calm.
- Do not use cell phones or radios.
- Do not turn on or off lights or other electrical or mechanical devices.
- Take your time and be thorough.
- Any time a search is conducted, it must be done discretely and quietly, but thoroughly.
- Any suspicious packages must not be disturbed.
- If a suspicious package is found, inform the police and let them check it. In the meantime, quickly evacuate the area around the package.
- Public Areas:
- Ashtrays, urns, and potted plants.
- Packages behind or under furniture.
- Trash cans.
- Restrooms (most bombs are placed here):
- All stalls (behind tank, in toilet, back of stall doors).
- Trash cans.
- Under sinks.
- Particularly behind or adjacent to piping.
- Outside or Adjacent to the Building(s):
- All planter areas.
- Trash cans.
- Vehicles parked close to the building, especially old, "junk" vehicles.
- All natural hiding places.
Radio and Cell Phone Use During a Threat
- Extreme caution must be taken regarding radio use. Radios must be immediately turned off in the event of a bomb threat. Certain frequencies can set off a bomb.
- When the police are notified, question them on their recommendations for using two-way radios and cell phones.
Important Reminders to All Staff and Faculty:
- In all emergencies, employees should remain calm and be reassuring to our guests.
- Respond to any staff, student, or guest inquiries by first advising them to stay calm. Unless evacuation is called for, it is best to recommend that they remain in their offices or current locations.
- Pay attention to objects that appear unusual or out of place. Examples of such items include a briefcase or suitcase in a back-of-the-house area or a shoebox hidden behind a toilet in a public restroom. Any such items should be reported to security immediately.