Some parents in Killeen, Texas are upset that a local high school was not evacuated after a bomb threat was received on Monday. Students were taking an exam when the threat was received but the District’s Director of School Safety John Dye said the decision not to evacuate was not based on the testing at Ellison High School.
Dye said that Killeen ISD authorities searched the school and found no signs of a suspected device.
Most people mistakenly think that automatically evacuating a facility whenever a bomb threat is received is the safest course of action, but many government agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Enforcement suggest that multiple options including keeping occupants in place while a sweep is conducted can help to reduce the ability of a bomber to more effectively target evacuees by calling in bomb threats and patterning how occupants will react.
In the white paper on school bomb threat management I developed for the Indiana School Specialists Academy and in our school bomb threat management training programs, Safe Havens recommends not evacuating as one appropriate option for school bomb threats. This is partially because a site that is not fully secured by fencing and bomb detection screening measures can be more easily targeted if they always evacuate for bomb threats. When considering that this also makes it easier to target building occupants with a vehicle bomb, a flexible approach makes even more sense.