The use or threat of use of explosives, incendiary devices or hoax devices is a common crime. The purpose of which may be extortion, disruption of the business, revenge etc. . .
It is important that every staff member become acquainted with the procedures for responding to a suspected device or threat.
Bomb threats can be received by any communication source. .

  • Always contact the police when a threat or a suspicious item is received.
  • For all emergencies dial 9-1-1
  • Your police department will contact the Bergen County Police for the bomb squad as well as Fire or EMS services as appropriate.
  • Further information is available through the Bergen County Police Headquarters
    at 201-646-2700

No search can be guaranteed 100% effective. Areas with public access (bathrooms, exterior, hallway trash receptacles etc. . ) are the most convenient to a bomber and should not be minimized. Those who are familiar with the area and can detect what is “out-of-place” are important to the search.

Suspected Bombs, military ordnance, unstable explosives:

Do not move, touch, or otherwise disturb the item. Evacuate for a safe distance. If possible, shut off natural gas in the area. If the danger of explosion appears significant, dispatch fire units to a safe stand-by area. Evaluate the credibility of the suspicion and, if appropriate, follow the recommendations for actual bombs.

When a bomb threat is received (written or telephonic). . .

Have professionals assist in evaluating the seriousness of the threat to determine if an evacuation is necessary. What sort of facility has been threatened? (A threat against an abortion clinic, for example, would always be credible.) Is there a history of unfounded threats against this facility? What is known about the caller from his voice, speech, and statements? If caller ID is in use, where did the call originate? (A threat against a high school, made by a juvenile calling from a pay phone within the school during exam week, might be judged not to be a credible threat).

  • Notify the police (preferably on a separate phone line) of the threat
  • If the threat is written - minimize the number of people who handle it. It may be used as evidence by the police.

If the threat is received via telephone. . .

  • Keep the caller on the line as long as possible. Document or record what is said.
  • Ask the location of the bomb if not volunteered.
  • Inform the caller that the building is occupied.
  • Pay attention to voice and background noises (to aid police investigation).
  • Check with your telephone company or system installer to determine if you can activate a line “trap”.
  • Questions to ask the caller:
    • When is bomb going to explode?
    • Where is it right now?
    • What does it look like?
    • What kind of bomb is it?        
    • What will cause it to explode?        
    • Did you place the Bomb?
    • Why?
    • What is your name?

Document the exact wording from threat.
Be able to describe the caller’s voice.
Describe any sounds in the background.
Did the caller sound well educated, foul, incoherent or if they were reading from a message?
Be aware of the phone line the threat came into and take note of the length of the call.

Report the call immediately.


Physical security measures like locked doors, limiting public access combined with staff awareness increases preparedness.


Bombs can be constructed to look like almost anything and can be placed or delivered in any number of ways

Remember when searching for a bomb, suspect anything that looks unusual.

Mail Bombs

A potential method of deploying a bomb is through the mail. Staff should be trained on what to look for. If you have received bomb threats, you should be particularly attentive to this potential.

Potential mail bomb indicators:

  • Addresses or labels improper
  • Leaks, stains, protruding wires, string or tape, packages wrapped in string
  • Excess postage
  • No postage or non-canceled postage
  • Generic or incorrect titles
  • No or nonsensical return address
  • Handwritten notes such as confidential, prize enclosed, private etc. . .
  • Any letters or packages arriving before or after a phone call from an unknown person asking if the item was received.

Most bombers set up and deliver the bomb themselves (source: BATF)

Your best approach . . .

Plan before your facility receives a threat or finds a suspicious package. Your police department and/or municipal emergency management office can be a valuable resource in your safety planning for bombs and other hazards.

The Bergen County Police Department has an accredited bomb squad with trained bomb technicians, explosive detecting canines and equipment. The County Police Bomb Squad is available ONLY through your police department.


The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof in the furtherance of political or social objectives”.

Terrorism can occur through the use of guns, bombs or arson,  but biological, chemical radiological, and computer (cyberterrorism) means can be used.  Terrorism preparedness encompasses good crime prevention plus:

Generally. . .

  • Be aware of your surroundings - be alert for suspicious activity or packages.
  • Do not touch suspicious packages or items - contact the proper authority.
  • Know where exits are - especially in public assembly areas.
  • Dial 9-1-1 to report emergencies that require police, fire or EMS.
  • Have an emergency kit in your home and car.  An emergency kit can help you with man-made emergencies (like power failures or terrorism) or natural disasters (like floods or storms).  An emergency kit can include (at a minimum):
    • First aid supplies
    • Flashlight with extra batteries
    • Non-perishable food
    • Drinking water
    • Blanket(s) or sleeping bag(s)
    • Rain gear or a change of clothing

Personally . . .

  • Don't discuss personal matters such as travel plans, your job, or your family with people you don't know.
  • Vary your route to and from work, and the time you arrive and depart.
  • Avoid routines (time & location) for shopping, lunch, etc. . .
  • Become familiar with the environment. You must know what is normal to be able to detect what is unusual.

For the Office . . .

  • Prepare contingency plans in the event of an emergency - coordinate these plans with the local emergency services.
  • Ensure that all personnel are familiar with the appropriate section of these emergency plans and their role.
  • Report suspicious persons to the appropriate agency.
  • Do not give information on personnel or operations over the telephone to strangers.
  • Lock private toilets, unused closets and offices, etc. . .
  • Institute visitor control procedures.
  • Be alert for suspicious persons, packages, mail and cars within and near the building.