Much like the haircut called the mullet, calling in bomb threats is a fad that, whether you like it or not, just keeps popping up. And while mullets are a little hard to find at UVA, bomb threats aren’t. According to University sources, three threats have been made in the last few weeks (contradicting several media reports that place the number as high as five).
“The closings left students who had come prepared to take mid-term exams and to turn in papers very frustrated,” reads a stern email sent to all University students about the buildings shut down by bogus calls.
“The calling in of a bomb threat is a class five felony offense,” reads the email, which goes on to add delicately that such calls “could be cause for separation from the University.”
With that in mind, the University has released a Bomb Threat Protocol (check it out for yourself at HYPERLINK "http://www.virginia.edu/topnews" www.virginia.edu/topnews) with precise instructions about what to do if you answer the phone and hear a bomb threat.
The highlight of the new protocol is, without a doubt, the “Telephone Bomb Threat Checklist,” which reads something like a telemarketing script or a fill-in-the-blank Mad Lib. Annoyed by the rash of bomb threats? Well, this is your chance to annoy the caller right back!
When a caller tells you he’s planted the devilish device somewhere, get right down to business: “Where is the bomb right now?” “What will cause it to explode?” You can even try unexpected bombshells like “What is your address?” (Bang! That’ll trick ‘em!)
When you’ve finished interrogating the hapless threatener (who is probably regretting the whole thing… who would have thought a bomb threat could be so much work?), you get to fill out a checklist about the perp’s voice. Adjectives you might choose range from “nasal” to “raspy” and from “disguised” to “familiar.” The language itself can be ranked anywhere from “well spoken” to “foul.”
Anyone who’s seen the sleuthing of Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive or Clint Eastwood in In The Line of Fire knows that you can learn a lot from background noises. Should you hear any “factory machinery,” “animal noises,” or, of course, “crockery,” the Telephone Bomb Threat Checklist is your chance to let the police know.
Will faculty, staff, and students be printing out copies of the Bomb Threat Protocol to keep handy by the phone? Hmm… probably not.
But then again, perhaps the hubbub is geared more at preventing threats than solving them. The protocol includes backup plans so that academic quality time won’t get wasted, which might discourage those with the likeliest motives— avoiding work or evading tests.
“Classes and exams will not be cancelled,” the mass email reads. “Papers that are due must be turned in.”
Each closure in the recent threats lasted roughly five hours; one arrest has already been made. Eighteen-year-old Danielle Patrice Carr was nabbed roughly two weeks ago for writing a bomb threat to the O-Hill Dining Hall, her place of employment.
Ah, well. Fun while it lasted, eh, kids?