Receive a bomb threat? Stay Calm

In 2023, the US Jewish community reported 1,005 false bomb threats and “swatting” calls (“Swatting” is the act of making false emergency calls, often to 911, to trigger a response from law enforcement.) This was a 774% increase from 2022 when only 115 incidents were reported. 998 of these 2023 incidents were false bomb threats, so I thought I would take some time to address this situation, as a number of our organizations in Oregon received bomb threats via email in the past few months. Every organization should have a plan for dealing with bomb threats (give me a call if you don’t have one!) and our community members, as building users, should understand how organizational leaders will respond to the threats. 
You should NOT evacuate the building upon receiving a threat. Most people are surprised to hear this; however, evacuations can put people in more harm than if they stayed in place and the building itself can provide protection if the bomb is real. The decision to evacuate will be made after an evaluation of the threat and often after police arrive and conduct a sweep of the building. 
According to an FBI-led training I recently attended, there are only two incidences in modern US history in which a real bomb had been placed AND the person called to let the organization know. This means that statistically speaking, your bomb threat is a hoax. Being on the receiving end of a bomb threat call or email can be very stressful and fear-inducing. This is a normal immediate response and I raise the likelihood of it being a hoax so that your next thoughts can focus on calming down so you can collect the recommended information. It’s a bomb threat and must be addressed thoughtfully, but being in a calmer state of mind, knowing it is probably not real, will help you navigate the recommended next steps. 
According to the FBI and DHS’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), here are best practices if you receive a threat call (
-Write down the caller’s number from the phone display and record the call if possible (this is legal to do in Oregon but not in Washington) through your organization’s phone/computer system or by putting the call on speaker and using your cell phone. 
-Keep the caller on the phone as long as possible, asking questions such as When is the bomb going to explode? Where is it right now? What does it look like? Did you place the bomb? What will cause it to explode? What is your name? The CISA checklist is helpful to keep near your phone for easy reference. If the caller hangs up, do not hang up your phone, as it may help the police trace the call. The checklist also has a list of different ways the caller may have sounded and background noise options, to recall elements of the call that might be useful to law enforcement. 
-Try to get another person’s attention so they can call 911. That call should be made from a building phone, (not on a cell phone), or call 911 from a different phone after the caller hangs up. 
-Turn off power to cell phones and walkie-talkies (portable and stationary). Radio signals from these types of devices can detonate a real bomb. 
-Do not touch any suspicious objects or use the building’s fire alarm or “panic button.”
In each instance when our organizations called 911, Portland Police responded to the building and conducted a sweep of the property. They spoke with leadership and helped evaluate the threat. Portland Police will not definitively say that a threat is a hoax, but discussions with them provided enough information for leadership to decide about evacuations. None of our organizations evacuated or stopped operations because of the threats.  If you receive a threat, let me know, as I may know about others received by the community and I’m available to help evaluate the threat. As in everything related to safety and security, a little bit of pre-planning can go a long way to help staff respond effectively to stressful situations. Please let me know if I can be of help. 
I’d also like to take this opportunity to share security news happening in our community. Adam Edward Braun was arrested for repeatedly defacing a synagogue in Eugene. His recent arrest in Eugene is a great example of local, state, and federal efforts to fight criminal antisemitic acts. The vandalism took place between August and October 2023. On Jan. 14, 2024, there was another incident at the synagogue. When a search warrant was served at Braun’s home, police allegedly found Nazi-themed paraphernalia. Federal charges were announced on Mar. 7 and Braun has been detained in custody. Cameras at the synagogue played a crucial role in the identification of this suspect.  
Lastly, you can always reach me at or 872-273-9214. I’m always available for free personal and confidential consultations if you are having a safety/security issue in your life. My Zoom trainings are free and open to the public. I offer all my classes once per month and registration is available at the JFGP website security page, 


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