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Response to
Suspicious Packages/Bomb Scares

It is the policy of the University of Pennsylvania Police Department that all responses to bomb scares or suspicious packages be conducted systematically, efficiently, and in a manner that gives primary consideration to the protection of human life. All such responses will be conducted in conjunction with the Philadelphia Police Department.

  • A bomb scare is defined, in part, as a condition that exists when a device is suspected to be at a given location.
  • A bomb emergency is defined as a condition when a suspected or actual explosive device has been located or has been detonated.

When the Penncomm Center is notified of the existence of a suspicious device the Penncomm Police Supervisor will ensure that Penn Police officers/Commanders are immediately dispatched to the location of the package and that the Philadelphia Police Department is notified of the situation.

If a real or suspicious device has been located, or paraphernalia identified, the on-scene police supervisor will proceed with the immediate evacuation of, at a minimum, the floor where the package is located and a floor above and below the location of the package. It is not always necessary to evacuate the entire building. The University of Pennsylvania Police Department, Incident Commander will then confer with the Philadelphia Police Department Ordinance Disposal personnel to determine the course of action based on their recommendations. The University of Pennsylvania Police Department Incident Commander will then adjust the area of evacuation and perimeter based on the recommendation of the Philadelphia Police Department Ordinance Disposal Unit.

The Philadelphia Police Department Ordinance Disposal Unit's personnel will, when responding, report to the Incident Commander for an initial briefing. They will then examine, identify, and, if possible, predict the destructive potential of the explosive material and inform the Incident Commander. The Philadelphia Police Department Ordinance Disposal personnel will determine whether the material can be safely disarmed or removed, and further ensure, if possible, that the material is photographed. The scene will be released when the Philadelphia Police Department Ordinance Disposal Unit determines that it is safe for entry.

When accepting a parcel or letter delivery it is important to look for any of the following characteristics:

  • Foreign mail, Air Mail, and Special Delivery
  • Restrictive markings such as Confidential, Personal, etc.
  • Excessive Postage
  • Handwritten or poorly typed addresses
  • Incorrect titles
  • Titles but no names
  • Misspellings of common words
  • Oily stains or discolorations
  • No return address
  • Excessive weight
  • Rigid envelope
  • Protruding wires and tinfoil
  • Excessive securing material such as masking tape, string, etc.
  • Visual distractions

If any such suspicious parcel or letter is received do not handle it. Call the University of Pennsylvania Police Department immediately at 511 or (215) 573-3333.

-- Thomas A. Rambo, Chief of Police,
Penn Police Department Division of Public Safety

Bomb Threat Checklist

For a printable, full-size checklist, CLICK HERE

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 2, September 4, 2001



September 4, 2001
Volume 48 Number 2

Dr. Arthur H. Rubenstein--an accomplished physician, diabetes researcher and academic leader--is the new EVP for UPHS and dean of the School of Medicine.
Dr. Anita A. Summers, professor emeritus, is the University's new Ombudsman.
Robin H. Beck is now vice president of ISC.
The French Institute has a new director: Dr. Jean H. Gallier, professor of CIS.
The annual Undergraduate Admissions seminars for Penn families with college-bound children take place today and Thursday.
It is time to plan ahead for BEN Financials, the new way to do business at Penn.
A report to the President and Provost Concerning Services to Students with Disabilities includes a dozen recommendations.
Responding to suspicious packages and bomb scares
Some Penn researchers are studying brain injury, cancer cells, firearm violence, and software development while others are finding a new dinosaur.