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Bomb Threat Call Checklist

Use the bomb threat call checklist below to record details of the threat. Call public safety at x3636. Public safety will respond and evaluate the threat. In the event an evacuation is necessary, the Metropolitan Police Bomb Squad and public safety will coordinate an orderly and safe evacuation.

Questions to Ask:
1. When will it go off?
2. Where is it located?
3. What type of bomb is it?
4. What type of explosive is it?
5. Why are you doing this?
6. Who are you?
Exact wording of the threat:
Date_______________ Time of call____________________________
Voice on the phone (circle as applicable): Male Female Adult Child
Estimated age_____________Race____________________________
Speech (circle as applicable):

Slow Foul Impeded
Rapid Broken Soft/high pitched
Normal Sincere Deep
Excited Accented Calm
Loud Intoxicated Angry

Background Noises (circle as applicable):
Music Typing Factory
Machines Trains
Laughing Traffic Quiet

Additional Observations:


Bomb Threat Procedures


In 2005, public safety received a bomb threat saying that “There is a bomb in the sports Arena, where the graduations are being held.” In most cases, bomb threats of this type are designed to disrupt the normal business operations of the institution. Additionally, true terrorists are interested in killing or maiming as many people as possible and therefore will not typically make phone calls prior to the bomb going off. For these reasons and others, the recommended course of actions is to:

  1. Notify selected staff that we have received a bomb threat.
  2. Have selected staff inconspicuously conduct a visual search for suspicious packages or devices.
  3. Notify public safety if a suspicious device or package is located.
  4. If package is confirmed as suspicious, conduct a safe and orderly evacuation of the building.
  5. Notify MPD that a suspicious device or package has been located in the building after receiving a bomb threat.

It must be emphasized that public safety has no credible information that American University is the proposed target of any attack. This plan is being devised simply as a precautionary measure and predefined plan to deal with bomb threats and suspect devices or packages. This plan is designed to have select staff members and public safety work as a team to ensure a safe environment.



To avoid causing panic, codes will be used to alert staff members of a bomb threat condition: 

  1. Code 9 – Bomb threat received – no suspicious package – begin visual search.
  2. Code 10 – Suspicious package or device located – stand by for further instructions
  3. Code 11 – Suspicious package confirmed – begin evacuation procedures
  4. Code 12 – No suspicious package found or package has been deemed safe – all clear 

It is extremely important that staff members avoid using terms like “we have a bomb threat” or providing members of the audiences with details about what is going on. Any inquiries, especially from members of the press, should be directed to the Media Relations spokesperson. Except for making visual searches for suspect devices, staff members should look and act like nothing is wrong.



  1. Staff members should simply visually look in their immediate surroundings for packages or items that look out of place or unusual.
  3. If you see something that truly looks suspicious, then notify the nearest public safety officer that you believe you have a “code 10” in your area.
  4. Try to be as accurate as possible about the device and why you deem it to be suspicious.
  5. Avoid using radios or walkie-talkie devices as radio signals can detonate explosive devices.
  6. Do not start any evacuation procedures without authority from public safety or the incident commander.
  7. Public safety officers will conduct visual searches of primary areas and report back to the incident commander on status.


If a suspect device is located and verified then the building will need to be evacuated. The decision to evacuate will only be made by the President after consultation with the incident commander. If evacuation is decided, the President and others should use soft works like “We have a possible problem in the building and would like to ask you to leave the building in an orderly fashion while the situation is further evaluated.” 

Public Safety officers will assist staff in evacuation of building. All evacuation efforts should be directed away from the area where the suspect device is located. The recommended safe distance from an explosive device is 300 feet. Staff members and public safety should evacuate patrons so that all are outside the 300 foot radius. 

MPD and MFD will be notified to respond to check out the suspicious device. No one will be allowed back in the building unless MPD or MFD provides the ALL CLEAR.


All Clear

If no suspicious device is located, then the incident commander will issue a Code 12 and all staff members can resume normal operations.

Examples of packages or devices that can be suspicious: 

  1. Unattended book bags, brief cases, knapsacks, etc.
  2. Boxes with strange markings on them and look out of place.
  3. Packages or boxes with unexplained “ticking or humming.”
  4. Items or boxes with wires protruding from it in an unexplained manner.

Remember, bombs can be concealed in just about anything these days. When looking for these items, also look for anything that looks out of the ordinary. Do not touch the item. Contact public safety immediately (x3636).

It must be emphasized that 99.9% of the time, no evacuation will be necessary. This plan is a simple precautionary measure to ensure that we are ready to handle a bomb threat situation in an organized and professional manner with minimum disruption to university activities and no loss of life or property.


Monitoring Suspicious Activities & Items

Maintain a high level of awareness at all times. Monitor and observe people, events, activities, and items around you and note irregular or suspicious behavior or happenings.

Look for people who:

  • Are not where they are supposed to be (restricted area, etc.);
  • Look lost and/or wandering around;
  • Appear to be conducting unusual surveillance;
  • Cause disruptions to intentionally distracting behavior;
  • Show an unusual interest in employees;
  • Abandon an item and leave the area quickly;
  • Openly posses a dangerous item; and/or
  • Use a vehicle in a suspicious way (parking, erratic driving, following, etc.).

*Monitoring a suspect should not be based on national origin, ethnicity, color, race, gender, or age.

Look for items or devices that:

  • Were abandoned and left in the open;
  • Were abandoned and hidden;
  • Appear to be suspicious or dangerous, such as a canister, tank, metal box, bottle, etc.;
  • Have an attached message;
  • Appear to be emitting a mist, gas, vapor, or odor;
  • Seem to have seepage or leakage of a suspicious substance;
  • Are connected to wires, timers, tanks, or bottles; and/or
  • Appear to be the source of a foreign substance that is causing people to cough, have trouble breathing, feel nauseated, lose consciousness, or have any other medical reaction.

Identifying and Responding to Suspicious People

ONLY approach or question a suspicious person if you feel comfortable. If you feel uncomfortable or threatened, seek assistance from a public safety officer.

Avoid using a “rough” approach – being aggressive, confrontational, abusive or offensive. Avoid detaining or getting physical with the suspect. Make sure to note individual’s original location. Focus on his/her behavior and physical characteristics and keep him/her in your sight, if possible. 

If suspicious person is no longer visible, note the last known direction headed. If he/she is seen in a vehicle, be ready to give description of vehicle, license plates, any stickers or logos. 

When reporting on individual(s), note the following characteristics: 

  • Head – eyes, ears, hair, mouth, nose, forehead, cheeks, chin, complexion, and if wearing any jewelry, clothing, hats.
  • Body – neck, arms, chest, stomach, shirt/blouse/dress, coat, accessories, tattoos, scars, and/or birthmarks.
  • Legs – pants, skirt, belt, feet, socks, shoes.
  • Overall appearance – height, weight, gender, age.

Mail Bombs

Public awareness of mail bombs has increased at all levels, including university mailrooms and offices. To apply proper safety procedures, it is important to know the type of mail normally received and be aware of the following:

  • Mail bombs come in letters, books, and packages of various sizes, shapes, and colors.
  • Letter texture may feel ridged, look uneven or lopsided, or feel bulkier than normal.
  • Excessive amounts of postage may be present—often far more than needed.
  • Sender is unknown or there is no return address.
  • Handwritten notes appear such as “rush” “personal” or “private.”
  • Addressee normally does not receive mail at the office.
  • Cut or pasted homemade labels are used for lettering.
  • The letter or package may emit an odor or appear to have been disassembled and re-glued.
  • Distorted or foreign writing is present.
  • Resistance or even pressure is felt when trying to remove contents from package.
  • Several combinations or tape are used to secure the package.
  • Contents of the parcel may slosh or sound like liquid; some packages may emit noises.

If suspicious piece of mail is received and its contents cannot be verified, the following protocol applies:

  • Stop. Do not open the item. Do not panic.
  • Isolate the letter, parcel, or package. Note: All people should be asked to leave the area quickly. The package should be observed from a safe distance until the bomb squad arrives.
  • Call the department of public safety (x3636).
  • Never move or place the item in water, a drawer, or a cabinet.