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Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany

Readiness Enabler for Operational Forces  •
Officials outline procedures for suspicious packages

By Nathan L. Hanks Jr. | | February 21, 2014


Marines and civilian-Marines oftentimes conduct physical training during their lunch.

Rushing to squeeze in a shower and a bite to eat, backpacks and other items are sometimes left behind by mistake.

Although in many cases there is no actual security threat, the possibility of it is enough to disrupt the lives of hundreds of people working or living aboard Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany.

Through training and experience, the Marine Corps Police Department has established procedures to handle unattended/suspicious mail or packages.

According to Capt. Mike Reynolds, operations officer, Marine Corps Police Department, Public Safety Division, MCLB Albany, there is a difference between a suspicious and an unattended package.

“An unattended item or package does not necessarily rise to the level of ‘suspicious package’ merely because it is unattended,” Reynolds said. “An unattended package is an item that does not have the indicators of a suspicious package, but is left in a location that no one claims or is not associated with its surroundings.”

The person who found the package should ask himself or herself, “Was the package just left unattended or is it suspicious,” Reynolds said.

According to Bill McNulty, director, PSD, MCLB Albany, if someone locates an unattended or suspicious package, they should not touch, tamper with or remove it.

McNulty suggests trying to identify the owner of

the package or bag by asking those nearby.

 “If this does not work, call the Marine Corps Police Department from a base telephone by dialing 229-639-5911,” he said. “As a precaution, do not use a cell phone, mobile radio or any other transmitting device near a suspicious package.”

The next step is to notify your supervisor of the unattended or suspicious package, Reynolds said.

Reynolds added that every package is not suspicious unless it meets a certain criteria.

He defines a suspicious package as any item that may contain a threat of a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive device or substance.

“A package is considered suspicious when a person can articulate reasons they believe the item is suspicious or represents a potential threat,” Reynolds said.

Signs or indicators of a suspicious package include, but are not limited to:

* Excessive postage

* Handwritten or poorly-typed addresses

* No return address

* Misspelling of common words

* Oily stains or discolorations

* Excessive weight

* Protruding wires

* Originates from an unexpected or unfamiliar source

* Package has a substance on it such as powder, liquid, paste or metal shavings

* Excessive securing material such as tape or string

* Any indication of a timer such as a beeping or ticking sound

* Arming or firing device

* Any indication from mail screening devices such as x-ray imaging or sniffer equipment, which raises suspicion about the nature of the package

After alerting authorities and supervisory personnel, be prepared to answer questions regarding the suspicious package to include:

* Where is the exact location of the package?

* What makes the package suspicious?

* What is the exact description of the package?

* When was it first noticed?

* Who physically touched the package?

* Is there a return address on the package?

* Has the package been opened?

* Are there any foreign substances inside or leaking outside the package?

* Has there been any correspondence that is either threatening or suspicious to include notes or phone calls?

Reynolds noted everyone should stay out of the line of sight of any potential explosive device, thereby reducing the hazard of injury as a consequence of direct fragmentation.

He also added to keep away from glass windows or other materials that could become additional flying debris when impacted by blast waves.

Everyone should remain alert for additional or secondary explosive devices in the immediate area, especially if the existence of a bomb evacuation assembly area has been highly publicized, Reynolds stressed.

People should prepare for evacuation by ensuring assembly areas are searched for possible secondary devices prior to moving personnel to that area, according to Reynolds. 

When law enforcement arrives on scene, remain calm and follow officers’ instructions.

For more information about your workplace evacuation action plan, contact your immediate supervisor.