Police equipment faulted in U.S. tunnel threat response, report finds

The Associated Press

BALTIMORE- Emergency crews responding to a bomb threat last year in a Baltimore tunnel were unable to communicate because of outdated police equipment, according to a report.

The report by Maryland Transportation Authority Police also revealed that four special weapons teams were deployed around the Harbor and Fort McHenry tunnels for 24 hours before the crossings were temporarily shut Oct. 18.

The Baltimore Harbor Tunnel was closed and the Fort McHenry Tunnel was reduced to one lane of traffic in each direction for about two hours.

Police Chief Gary W. McLhinney said that his department's low-frequency communications system failed. A new system has been ordered for a mobile unit, and another one will be bought for his department's command center, he said.

The FBI later said it believed information provided by an informant about a terrorist plot to strike a city tunnel was not accurate. The informant said that Egyptians living in the Baltimore area were plotting to drive a bomb-laden vehicle into one of the city's two tunnels and detonate the explosives.

A copy of a five-page executive summary of the report was obtained by The (Baltimore) Sun.

Overall, the report concluded that the response to the alleged tunnel threat worked and law enforcement officials "were in accord that the order to close the tunnels was a prudent decision."

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