Bomb Scares in Suburbia

I’ve no doubt that there were policies and protocols in play, but I’d really like to know whether, in the near-decade since 9/11, there have been any instances in which this sort of heavy response has actually prevented anything:

At 9:03 Thursday morning the call came in to 911 from a Pocasset Cemetery worker. He had spotted a suspicious red duffel-sized gym bag near some bushes about 10 yards north of the road through the cemetery. …
At one point, two engine trucks, two command vehicles, and a rescue truck were all parked curbside on Main Road, lights flashing. About a dozen fire fighters, two fire chiefs (Chief Lloyd and his counterpart from Portsmouth, Jeffrey Lynch), and a single police officer had all gathered behind a wall on the Main Road sidewalk, a respectful distance (about 100 yards) from the barely visible red bag up in the cemetery.

Authorities closed the nearby post office briefly and blocked the drive-through windows to a Bank Newport branch. After (as the Newport Daily News reports) deployment of a bomb squad robot and use of a mineral-water bomb to explode the bag, its contents turned out to be about what one would expect: clothes and a DVD.
I haven’t yet heard it said, but the slogan of our times may be becoming “common sense kills.” It wouldn’t apply, of course, to the residents of the threatened cemetery.

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Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

It might be more of a good excuse for people to try out the techniques they’ve trained on. After all, it’s no fun to just walk over and unzip the bag. Anyone can do that.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Back around 1980 we got a letter bomb sent to the INS District Office in Chicago.It was deemed suspicious by mailroom personnel.Instead of calling ATF,the agent in charge and a few other agents tried to dismantle it.I told them to wait until I left the room because I’d experienced the loss of three men in my unit in Vietnam who blew themselves up “dismantling” a stray piece of ordnance.Thankfully the device didn’t detonate.I know NOTHING about explosive ordnance disposal.Neither did they,but that didn’t stop them.The world’s a tough place,but it’s a lot tougher if you’re stupid.
As a note,the agent in charge,had,years earlier,picked up an illegal alien walking near the border with his little boy.Not wanting to embarrass the man,this agent put him in the front seat with the boy between them without cuffs and without searching him.The man pulled a knife and stabbed the agent next to his heart.The agent then fired six rounds into the man’s face,killing him instantly.THAT really must have made the kid feel good.
The agent managed to reach a hospital because miraculously the blade didn’t hit a major blood vessel.
Some people never learn.
This guy was an absolute asshole to work for.They collected $14 for his retirement party gift.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
11 years ago

You paint yourself as a true East Bayer-that cemetery is flush with the Providence border; not exactly “suburban”.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Dear State/Municipal Governments,
I offer to be first responder to any additional “suspicious” packages or duffel bags left around the Providence/East Providence/Pawtucket area. I will charge $100 per response, saving the taxpayers thousands of dollars each year. I will gladly sign any waivers or necessary paperwork to protect government from liability in the event of my demise. I have transportation and I do not require any additional aid or equipment.
This is NOT a joke. I can start as early as tomorrow if necessary.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Tommy,
I’m not sure if a clever joke went over my head or you’ve got the wrong cemetery. How is Pocasset Cemetery in Tiverton “flush with the Providence border”? It may have a few folks who still vote to send representatives to Providence, but geographically, it’s quite a distance (by Rhode Island standards).

triple richard
triple richard
11 years ago

If it had turned out to be a bomb or anything that could hurt someone what would you all be saying now. Justin and other wrong wingers are always warning us about the dangers of terrorists when it suits them. I agree that the likelihood of a bomb in tiverton is almost nil but I do remember a kid from my years at PHS getting caught on the way to school with a pipe bomb.

David P
David P
11 years ago

There has to be some common sense protocol that doesn’t involve tying up apparatus from two fire departments and the state fire marshal for every piece of lost luggage.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“If it had turned out to be a bomb or anything that could hurt someone what would you all be saying now.”
I’d be saying: let me do it. I will be the first responder and open these lost bags. $100 per response. This is not a joke, I will in all seriousness take the job tomorrow.
Any liberal objections to my proposal? Conservative? Libertarian? Other? Ok, so it’s a done deal.
Oh, except for all these police and firefighter female reproductive organs who are so afraid of putting themselves in any real danger that they are willing to cost the taxpayers thousands and thousands of dollars on top of their salaries by playing with remote control robots.

Monique
Editor
11 years ago

“Dear State/Municipal Governments,
I offer to be first responder to any additional “suspicious” packages or duffel bags left around the Providence/East Providence/Pawtucket area. I will charge $100 per response”
Watch out, Dan. Some labor union might send paid proxies to picket you …

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

If the fire departments and police actually put out an ad in the paper to have somebody do what I just proposed for $100/pop, there would be a line of applicants so long it would wrap around Kennedy Plaza 5 times.
But I’m sure Michael can tell us how we need $100,000+ firefighter/EMT union members to respond to each and every incident for our own protection, like they respond every time an old lady falls down a doorstep and sprains her ankle to make sure she doesn’t have internal bleeding.
And I’m sure the progressives can tell us that that would be the ultimate exploitation of poor people (I’m not really poor though, I just want $1000 for opening 10 misplaced gym bags).

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

In other police/public union news:
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2010/07/16/pay_raise_planned_for_police_supervisors/?comments=all&csort=rec
Boston police supervisors threatened to raise hell if they weren’t given 14% raises because their $137,000 base salaries were being dwarfed by $100-250k patrolman salaries inflated through gross overtime abuse. The Democratic city council and the Democratic mayor have agreed to the raise in the wake of a 19% firefighter raise. Yay, public unionism!

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

If you want to see 200+ comments of white-hot taxpayer anti-union rage like you’ve never seen it before, check out the comments section of the article I posted (all paid right wing plants I’m sure).
Remind me again how well these firefighter/police public unions serve the public. Their taxpayer “employers” seem pretty damn pissed off with them at the moment, based on the roughly 97% negative response rate I’m counting.

Michael
11 years ago

Dan, they could have used you in Times Square a few months ago.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Well, I did say common sense. There’s quite a significant difference between a smoking vehicle parked in a major economic and cultural center and stray luggage in a small town open-space area like a cemetery.

michael
michael
11 years ago

That’s okay, we’ll just send Dan to the false alarms.
“If you want to see 200+ comments of white-hot taxpayer anti-union rage like you’ve never seen it before, check out the comments section of the article I posted (all paid right wing plants I’m sure).”
Dan, if you want to see 200+ comments going the other way come to a union meeting. Jeez, for a seemingly smart guy you make some dense comments.

michael
michael
11 years ago

Oh, and Dan, just leaving an old lady on the doorstep is what 90% of your fellow citizens do, but some of them do manage to call 911 with their cell phones before leaving her. And incidentally, an old lady who fell down the stairs has a very good chance of internal bleeding or worse.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“Dan, they could have used you in Times Square a few months ago.”
Because a smoking car packed with visible explosives is exactly the same thing as a lone duffel bag. My offer stands and I am quite confident in my ability to recognize the difference. There is a principle in the law called “probable cause” that the police/fire unions could look into if they want to avoid future public embarrassment (but also future overtime pay, so I won’t hold my breath).
“Dan, if you want to see 200+ comments going the other way come to a union meeting.”
The group of people I pointed to are Boston taxpayers who subscribe to the (quite liberal) Boston Globe newspaper. The group of people you pointed to are directly self-interested union members. Hey, didn’t you say that union members don’t all vote the same way on these pay issues a while back to defend the integrity of your own union? Now I’m confused.
“And incidentally, an old lady who fell down the stairs has a very good chance of internal bleeding or worse.”
Better send the firetrucks out to every single one then, just to make sure. Full crews, axes, oxygen tanks, fire-retardant clothing, sirens blaring, and everything. Never know when a blazing inferno might flare up.
Perhaps the reason people are reluctant to help nowadays has something to do with the fact that they could get their house sued out from under them if they botch the rescue attempt under state law. Or the fact that firefighter/EMTs/police are always screaming at everyone who comes near to back away and let them do their (extremely well-paid) jobs.

triple richard
triple richard
11 years ago

Is this the same Dan Gordon who posted all over the Sakonnet Times and is now running for office in Portsmouth? It sounds like it. Everyone can talk about being brave and tough but we all know the situation is very different in the real word.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

No, actually, I’m not. There are multiple people named Dan in a state of a million people – amazing.
If I don’t live in the real world, which world do I live in? I already clearly stated multiple times that my offer is not a joke and that I would be fully willing to open these misplaced bags for $100/response. A hard offer doesn’t get much more real than that. I’m not sure how I can convince you if that is not enough.

michael
michael
11 years ago

Considering I was issued a subpoena yesterday, “You are hereby commanded to appear…blah, blah blah” for some penny ante lawsuit involving a ridiculously bogus injury claim, I understand your reticence to be sued.
Perhaps you would rather the fire department remain simply firefighters, and give up the EMT, Haz-Mat, Incident Command, High Angle Rope Rescue and the dozens of other things we are trained and certified to do.
Or better yet, forget the firefighters who are strategically placed to respond to nearly every emergency within seven minutes of an emergency call and send the private ambulance to the old lady who fell, and when they find that her heart stopped, which happens more than you can imagine, have them do cpr, run a cardiac arrest code, push meds, start IV’s, defibrilate and drive to the ER.
Save a little money on those firefighter bums that way. Won’t save many lives, but who cares as long as taxes stay the same, or lower.
And when the bag is ticking, or has killed the last idiot that went to unzip it, which is a very real possibility, my guess is Dan will be busy elsewhere and unavailable, or more likely on his cell phone calling the real emergency responders.
And your group of Boston Taxpayers that respond to the comments section of a newspaper are the lowest common denominator of humanity I have ever had the misfortune of stumbling across. At least union members don’t hide behind a keyboard.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“And when the bag is ticking, or has killed the last idiot that went to unzip it, which is a very real possibility, my guess is Dan will be busy elsewhere and unavailable, or more likely on his cell phone calling the real emergency responders.”
You can guess and speculate all you want. I can’t very well defend myself against what you think I *might* do.
My offer stands and I am immediately ready and willing to take the position for $100/response. Have fun playing with your robots, controlled explosives, funny foam and whatever other expensive taxpayer-funded “equipment” gets wasted every year responding to this nonsense while two dozen cops and firefighters stand around watching on overtime. I’ll do it myself – $100/response, no joke, set it up, make it happen. But that would cost some union hacks their overtime and deflate their budget each year, so we can’t let that happen – for my own protection of course.
“At least union members don’t hide behind a keyboard.”
Have you ever visited RIFuture.org?

triplerichard
triplerichard
11 years ago

Sorry Dan, I just thought that since you both seem to be phony brave macho tough guys with a serious anti union lean that you might be the same guy. I was wrong(maybe) there are at least two jack asses named Dan.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

triplerichard:
Ad hominem will not be tolerated.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

That’s the difference between our perspectives. Accepting a 0.001% risk of death for a few thousand dollars isn’t machismo or even bravery to me, it’s just getting a few thousand dollars for nothing. I’m not trying to prove anything, I just want a brand new gaming computer. It has the additional benefit of exposing the incompetence, waste, and self-importance of certain public unions, but that’s just icing on the cake.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

FWIW bombs don’t just go off in “terrorist targeted” locations.There are numerous apolitical nitwits who plant explosives in such locations as mailboxes because they simply like to blow things up.
No need to panic when a child brings a plastic butterknife to school for their peanut butter/cheese snack,but suspicious packages in public places need professional response.
One has to consider the totality of the circumstances:a duffle bag abandoned on a skid row needn’t raaise eyebrows;a similar item on a subway platform should.

michael
michael
11 years ago

Problem is, Dan, it’s all or nothing. You can’t take just the easy jobs and leave the heavy lifting to the others. Your offer is an insult by design to the people who do the dirty work. Sure, most of the time it is nonsense. But when it’s not, it’s not. Anybody could do my job 90% of the time. It’s the 10% when things get hairy where I earn my money.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Michael,
I think you’re missing a middle ground. Dan’s proposal is to be a $100-per-incident screener. If the object is a duffel bag in the middle of an essentially open field, he’ll resolve it. If we’re talking a large suitcase that’s smoking or ticking next to a financial hub or government office, he’ll bring in the next tier.
I don’t know how much it costs for two fire trucks, an EMT vehicle, a bomb squad, a bomb robot, and all of the personnel involved (not to mention the disruption to local offices and stores), but I suspect the extra $100 layer would be a net gain by far.

David S
David S
11 years ago

Justin, I read the linked article and from the description I think the response was appropriate. Emergency responders have been required in recent years to answer to the public in more and more detailed ways. Gone are the cowboy days. Actions taken, a store closed, schools closed are now scrutinized with litigation in mind. Police and fire have to have credible defense for their actions. Fire departments use NFPA guidelines for among other things, response levels. So this call comes in – a suspicious item- and the dispatchers- acting professionally send the 1st alarm response. In the incident command structure, the incident commander (the highest ranking response member) can after arrival, or with more information, either scale the response down or up. This happens all the time. An alarm from a senior center initiates a certain response level. That level is then adjusted based on what is discovered.
Since you referenced Sept 11, 2001, remember what followed – a case of domestic terrorism. Anthrax was sent via mail throughout the country. I don’t know if suburbia can conclude it is safe from domestic assaults. And now look at the political landscape we find ourselves in. Over boiling anger against the government- the same government we rallied around when it and we were attacked in 2001. Now to put it mildly, some, like tea people are definitely off the reservation. Just imagine if the big electoral gains hoped for by the Tea Party do not materialize- well – Dan could be on to something. As in- Dan the canary in the coal mine.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

I remember when I was in 7th grade science,our teacher brought in some mercury and he let us pour it over our hands and stuff and no one rolled a 7 as I recall.Nowasays they’d close the school for two months and put the guy in jai.
In HS chemistry we made mild stuff like nitric acid.I put my hand(inadvertently)in a puddle of the stuff that was on the lab table and it hurt like hell.Burnt the piss out of my hand-the teacher told to just run cold water from the spigot on it for five minutes and be more careful where I put my hand.
The skin eventually turned yellow and peeled off,and I didn’t get a permanent scar.
Nowadays I don’t know how kids can have any fun in chem class.

unionguy
unionguy
11 years ago

all the men were on duty anyway so i dont see how it cost anything…

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