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Pennsylvania Capitol Police discuss bomb threat procedures amid slew of threats to statehouses

Barricades block stairs at the Pennsylvania Capitol on Jan. 12, 2021.
Sam Dunklau/WITF
Barricades block stairs at the Pennsylvania Capitol on Jan. 12, 2021.

Over the past few weeks, multiple statehouses – including ones in Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi and Montana – have had to evacuate due to bomb threat hoaxes.

Pennsylvania is not one of them, according to Troy Thompson, public relations director at Pennsylvania Capitol Police.

“I do not hesitate in saying that we are prepared to ensure the safety of those who work in and visit the Capitol in any type of situation that would occur, including a bomb threat,” said Thompson.

The department has procedures and tools to use in these situations, such as explosive-detecting dogs, but a lot can not be shared due to security reasons, Thompson said.

The Capitol Police work with local, state and federal law enforcement intelligence agencies to monitor incoming threats.

If one is deemed credible, Capitol police and other law enforcement officers at the statehouse would respond accordingly to the threat.

Some statehouses – including in neighboring Maryland – received threats but did not evacuate, according to the Associated Press.

The Department of General Services also has a checklist that visitors or people working at the Capitol can fill out if they believe they receive a bomb threat.

“It is actually targeted and focused on what our employees should do, but anything that’s in there could be adapted to someone in the public,” Thompson said. “So getting the type of information that is involved in that checklist, wouldn’t be something that would be beyond the realm of helping someone, whether they were a state employee or just a member of the general public.”