By Jacob Hancock
Two bomb-sniffing dogs scrambled through Orem”s courthouse hallways Monday, Nov. 6, 2006, when a man called a clerk and threatened two bombs in the building would detonate. Local police later scrutinized the decision to evacuate.
The bomb threat came at about 9:40 a.m., but court was in session less than two hours later, after the threat was determined to be a farce.
The brevity of the evacuation and search, however, is not an indication of carelessness, officials say.
“I don”t know that evacuating – even for a short time – was the smartest thing to do under the circumstances,” said Lt. Doug Edwards, Orem police spokesman. “The likelihood of anyone getting in there, especially with a bomb, is so remote.”
Evacuating the public to an outside location is often just as dangerous, Edwards said, because it”s insecure. “But they did what they thought was best, and it turned out OK.”
Criticism about the evacuation also came from a bomb technician who responded to the scene. Utah County Sgt. Skip Curtis, who is in charge of training and dispensing Utah County”s bomb squad, said the decision to evacuate wasn”t 100 percent to protocol and that it turned out to be “more for training” than anything else.
The courthouse administrator, in conjunction with security administrators, made the controversial decision to evacuate, said one security administrator who would not give his name because he was not an official spokesman for the court.
Along with employees, about 20 prisoners were evacuated and taken to a nearby holding facility, police said.
“The problem with evacuating in these situations is that it empowers the caller,” Edwards said, “and we get what we have in Provo where a caller did it three times in the same year.”