A Message from Chief Lyles on Bomb Threat Safety

Dear Howard University Community,

In recent weeks, several historically Black colleges and universities nationwide have been subjected to anonymous bomb threats, with the most recent being this morning. Fortunately, these threats have not yielded any credible danger to our, or any other community; but they have become a drain on institutional and municipal resources and an unnecessary mental burden on individuals trying to learn and work on our campus.

I'm writing to provide you with a few details about how the University handles such threats in partnership with Metropolitan Police Department and federal partners, including the FBI, to assist in investigating threats and eventually clearing areas upon the receipt of a threat and tracing the person(s) who may be responsible for creating high levels of anxiety through these acts. 

The University maintains a strict protocol of alerting the campus community and partnering agencies upon the receipt of a threat. We make every attempt to follow guidance issued by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to engage the individual making the threat, and secure more details about potential location, device type, and the location of the caller.  

An immediate evacuation of the facility or area where employees or students may be located is completed to ensure that no one is in harm's way in the event of a detonation or the discovery of an explosive device. This is in accordance with federal and municipal recommendations about how to protect life and property in the event of a bomb threat

We work with available city and federal agencies to sweep buildings and grounds to find devices that may be in suspicious packages or hidden in trash receptacles, work areas, foliage, and other obscure places on campus. The rules of threat response are guided by when a threat is received, the density of people or property in an area, and actions to take place once an 'all-clear' is given. It is important to note that even after an all-clear is given, we must all remain diligent about our surroundings and activity or materials which may be out of place on campus. 

Make no mistake; we have remained on alert on campus since the very first threat and have not stopped our work of assessment and scaled surveillance for suspicious activity, in partnership with local and federal law enforcement. We are committed to, and confident in the work of our on-campus police force and partnerships with regional agencies in ensuring safety and stability for our campus community. 

As an anchor institution in the nation’s capital, threats of this kind are more frequent but our proximity to a wealth of resources from local and federal agencies with the expertise to manage incidents of this kind places us in a position to act swiftly in our entire threat response. 

If you are feeling anxious, we are encouraging you to visit our student health center to speak to a mental health professional. Employees have access to mental health resources via our University’s health care provider.  

With your help, we will continue to operate with safety to achieve the important work of moving Howard forward into the future.

Categories

Bison S.A.F.E. and Operations