Executives from several Puget Sound area police agencies are concerned by a recent report in USA Today suggesting that bomb squads in major eastern cities have been overwhelmed with reports of suspicious packages.
They fear the article will discourage local residents from reporting suspicious packages.
The article reports that most of the suspicious package calls turn out to be benign, such as forgotten purses or backpacks. That’s just fine with King County Sheriff Sue Rahr.
“We’d rather respond to a hundred false alarms than miss the one real threat,” Rahr said.
“We are not overwhelmed, and we still want those calls,” said Seattle Police Chief John Diaz. “Our mantra remains ‘if you see something, say something.’”
Tips and calls from citizens are critical to protecting everyone, according to Washington State Patrol Chief John. R. Batiste.
“You know best what is normal in your neighborhood, your workplace or at your local bus stop,” Batiste said. “If you see something unusual, make the call. Let us be the ones to figure out whether it’s a threat.”
The executives acknowledge that suspicious package calls can be disruptive, especially at airports or state ferries. But local officers and bomb squads never know which purse or backpack will be “the one.”
“I would rather explain why someone missed a ferry than explain why a loved one was injured or killed,” Batiste said.
If you see a package that strikes you as suspicious, don’t touch it. Simply call 9-1-1.