Since September 15, Halifax Regional Police (HRP) and Halifax District RCMP have responded to a total of 12 bomb threats as follows:
HRP – 10 since September 15th and a total of 17 so far this year (compared to a total of 12 altogether in 2015)
Halifax District RCMP – 2 since September 15th and a total of 3 so far this year (compared to a total of 3 altogether in 2015)
All of these incidents have turned out to be hoaxes, although last week HRP did find a package at one of the scenes which appeared criminal in nature but was later determined not to be suspicious.
Regardless of these hoaxes, police have to take each bomb threat very seriously. We have a responsibility to treat each one as a legitimate call and do everything possible to mitigate the threat and work with the affected organization and other stakeholders. That said, we must also have a measured approach to these hoaxes.
When we respond to a bomb threat, we speak with representatives of the organization in question and ask them to identify any items that may be suspicious in nature. We also ask them to make a decision on evacuation as police don’t have the legal authority to evacuate a premises. If the organization chooses to evacuate, we can assist. Overall, organizations should have an emergency response plan for critical incidents, including an evacuation plan with evacuation criteria, muster points, etc.
A concern with each unsubstantiated bomb threat is that it draws police resources away from legitimate calls for service. In fact, bomb threats put a significant strain on resources in that the police response can include patrol officers, K-9/Police Dog Service, forensics officers including an explosives detection team, and traffic officers.
The recent bomb threats are being examined by investigators to look for commonalities and try to determine the person/people responsible. Depending on the circumstances of each file, possible charges under the Criminal Code include:
Section 140: Public Mischief (false report) – 5 years’ imprisonment
Section 430: Mischief (render property or interferes with use) – 2 years’ imprisonment
Section 264.1: Uttering threats – 5 years’ imprisonment
Section 372(1): False messages (intent to alarm) – 2 years’ imprisonment
Section 83.231(1): Hoax regarding terrorist activity – 5 years’ imprisonment
We thank everyone who has been affected by the recent bomb threat hoaxes for their cooperation, and assure people that we’re doing everything possible to identify those responsible.