Creating a suspicious item SOP
I’ve been having an interesting discussion with a friend and reader who is rightly concerned about the conundrum of responding to a call concerning a suspicious item. “Maybe it’s a bomb; maybe it’s someone’s nasty, dirty, garbage…”
The underlying problem is in being wrong; if we decide it isn’t a bomb and it is, then we add a name or two to the wall (which reminds me, have you donated lately? nleomf.org). If we decide it IS a bomb and it isn’t, then we’ve got a lot of angry people who like to fire off emails. You know, the shop owners that couldn’t do business, the patrons that were oh so inconvenienced by rerouted traffic and closed sidewalks, supervisors eating antacids while calculating all the OT from the increased manpower (someone has to go block off all that stuff, right?). Don’t forget the hosedraggers, stretcher jockeys, light and power guys, EMA; all of the other people that need to show up at a bomb problem.
Oh, and the media – the armchair quarterbacks – who could tell two seconds into the story what you couldn’t: that it was a submarine sandwich, not a bomb. Lastly, there is the Bomb Squad. For some reason, there is a belief among Officers that Bomb Techs don’t like to be pestered. I have NO clue why or where this myth took root or propagated as it has, but it persists: ‘Don’t bother the Squad unless it’s for real.‘
The problem with that belief is that 99.7 percent of all Bomb Techs would love nothing more than to answer a bomb call. It doesn’t really matter what it turns out to be; a job is a job. Every Tech that I know gets knotted up every time they hear of someone kicking a box, or yanking a wire protruding from a bag because they had to be sure it was a bomb before they inconvenienced anyone.