Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Appendix: Summary of Responses to Bomb Threats

Prevention and Harm Reduction
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
1 Developing a response plan Response plan reduces confusion should a threat occur and identifies points of early intervention …the bomb response plan is coordinated with the school’s and community’s overall disaster response plan Requires collaboration with local emergency response teams, such as police, firefighters and EMS services
2 Developing a threat reporting system Identifies possible warning signs and communicates that violence or threats of violence are not tolerated …you have a close and trusted working relationship with the school Data collected may be used for policing research as well as indicating when immediate police intervention is required
3 Helping the school conduct a security survey Identifies points of vulnerability for placement of bombs or break-ins …it is followed up with specific recommendations for improving security, such as installation of appropriate lighting, placement of parking lots etc. Your help will be needed by the school to convince the school board and district supervisor that the expense of upgrading security is justified    
4 Controlling access to school premises Makes it more difficult for would-be bombers to enter school …the school involves the parents and students in implementing these changes Some changes may be unpopular for legal, moral or political reasons
5 Monitoring communication into and out of campus Increases chance of identifying possible sources of threats …the school installs secure phone system, restricts cell phone use, monitors public phone use and Internet activity Incoming email is difficult to control; regular mail must be inspected in case of letter bombs or threats by mail
6 Warning and educating students Students learn that there are clear rules and laws against bomb threats that the school takes seriously …the school communicates clearly by its policies and actions that contraband, weapons, and explosives are prohibited from school grounds and that bomb threats have very serious consequences Searches may be legally challenged; collaboration of parents and school board is essential in establishing these procedures. Instruction by law enforcement officers may not be an effective method
7 Fostering a positive school climate A safe and secure social and moral climate works against violence including bomb threats …you get the total commitment of school principal to the whole-school approach Dealing with milder forms of aggression may help reduce or prevent the incidence of serious violence; some methods of intervention such as peer mediation are not effective
8 Identifying troubled children, bullies and victims of targeted violence Threat assessment training for teachers may help identify possible warning signs of bomb threats …principal provides time for teachers to meet together and share information Requires principal’s commitment to threat assessment approach, and time away from the classroom for teachers
9 Reaching out to parents Parent cooperation helps to enforce rules and identify problems in advance …schools make their facilities available for after-school activities and other community events where parents are involved Rules aimed at preventing bomb threats and violence may appear unnecessary or excessive to parents; their involvement in understanding the rationale of such rules is essential
Immediate Responses to a Bomb Threat
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
10 Recording the threat Response team, formed in Response 1, implements bomb threat response plan …all procedures in considerable detail with forms and checklists are already provided Recording exact details of threat is crucial
11 Analyzing the threat Seriousness of the threat is assessed so that appropriate action can be determined …decisions have already been made by the bomb response team as to what level of threat warrants reporting to police or other type of response Depends entirely on Response 1
12 Evacuating the school Decision is taken whether to evacuate the school according to seriousness of the threat and local circumstances …decision-making procedure and responsibility for making decision has been worked out before hand in the response plan Requires school practice of evacuation routes, toolkit for identifying and tracking students, contacting parents etc., all of which would have been worked out in Response 1
13 Locating a bomb Response team conducts a search using procedures and materials provided by Response 1 …those searching are very familiar with the plan and school premises Can be greatly enhanced if preparations for bomb search were made in Response 1
14 Talking to the media Positive media relations are established to ensure smooth and accurate communication to parents and community …an individual of the response team (Response 1) is the designated media spokesperson and is trained in media relations Individuals with media training may not be available in which case a press conference is called and a written statement made, in order to maintain better control over information
15 Following up Help the school provide support for those who have been traumatized by the incident …you contact the National Organization for Victim Assistance The response plan should be reviewed and adjusted where necessary
16 Placing police in schools Police conduct sessions on gang avoidance, conflict resolution, violence reduction ..done within a broader safer schools program, including extensive dialog with school authorities There is a danger that police may be looked to as the disciplinarians thus shifting responsibility for the problem away from the school
Response With Limited Effectiveness
# Response How It Works Works Best If... Considerations
17 Implementing zero-tolerance, mandatory suspension Student is immediately removed from school   Removing the student does not remove the threat, as threats are commonly called in by students who have a grudge, who may be on suspension or have dropped out