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Safety Solutions

Get Real:  Understanding School Bomb Threats Part Two

Posted by John Baker on Aug 3, 2016 9:00:00 AM

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Part Two: Responding to Bomb Threats

As school leaders we need to develop proportionate and appropriate responses to all types of threats.  And generally school leaders do a great job at that.  But when it comes to bomb threats the very word “bomb” seems to create an overreaction or disproportionate response at times.

The University of Albany’s Center for Problem-Oriented Policing provides a rubric to evaluate the seriousness of school bomb threats.  The rubric utilizes three levels of threats:

  • Low level, a threat that poses a minimal risk to the victims or public safety.

Vague, indirect, implausible, unrealistic, obviously made by a young child, caller is known to the call taker

  • Medium level, a that threat that could be carried out, although it may not appear entirely realistic

Direct threat, appears to have serious thought behind it, indications that preparations have been taken, specific statements of intent “I am serious about it, I will do it”

  • High Level, a threat that appears to pose imminent and serious danger

Threat is direct, plausible and specific, indications that caller has taken very specific steps and has specific knowledge to place create bomb and place it

While the center does not suggest how to specifically respond to each level what is important it discussing how a school will respond when such threats are made prior to the event happening.  These guidelines, along with an understanding of past trends regarding the threat and combined with real-time information can help school leaders formulate their initial response plan and avoid “starting from scratch” in the absence of prior planning and training.

Again recalling Part One of this blog series; Howlers don’t bomb, Hunters do.  Combine that with a vague note written on a bathroom mirror or Facebook chatter and you can quickly arrive at classifying the bomb threat Low level. 

 Here is where I would suggest:  Consider NOT evacuating.  Stay in place.  Conduct a thorough search of the building while students are in class.  It’s business as usual unless additional information is revealed.  If new information is found… reevaluate and consider your next step.

This is John Baker for safetysolutions4schools.com.   We would love to hear from you and hear how you are processing this blog series and what changes you think need to be made in our schools today as we respond to bomb threats.


Topics: School Safety

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