Spike in bomb threats putting strain on law enforcement resources

by: Richard Elliot Updated:

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ATLANTA - Many metro Atlanta bomb squads report the numerous suspicious package and bomb threat calls have taxed their resources, but so far, they said they're able to handle them.

Since the Boston bombings, metro Atlanta bomb squads report a marked increase in the number of calls they've received.  The vast majority of them are false alarms or hoaxes, but they have to take each one seriously.

"Since the Boston incident, we have seen within the GBI and within the bomb squad community around Georgia, a tremendous increase in calls," said GBI Deputy Director of Investigations Rusty Andrews. 

In addition to his investigative and administrative duties, Andrews also works as a bomb technician.

He said bomb techs with the GBI, like in other law enforcement agencies, usually have different primary repsonsibilities.  When suspicious package or bomb threat calls come in, those responsibilities take a back seat.

"If it's a part-time technician, they're taken away from doing their other job responsibilities which can be all types of other investigations and devote all their time to a suspicious package or whatever the call might be," said Andrews. "It can tax resources both for us and local bomb squads.  But we'd much rather have the resources taxed than somebody ignore a suspicious package or worse than that, somebody go look at it themselves then it blows up on them."

The Atlanta Police Department issued a statement reading, "checking suspicious packages can potentially require a great deal of department resources, including personnel.  It is difficult, however, to calculate the cost on the saving of lives and peace of mind."

Andrews said the GBI can handle the strain, especially since it beefed up its bomb squad after 9/11.  He said they have 28 bomb techs and 10 pieces of bomb squad equipment around the state.

Both the GBI and APD said they hope people will continue to call in suspicious packages, and that they will continue to take each on seriously.


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