As first responder, the safety of everyone in that mall is in my hands until additional personnel arrive. This has to override any concern about who might be inconvenienced or how the businesses in the mall might be affected. As that first responder, I am not a bomb expert. I am a law enforcement professional, but it is not my job to determine whether this package is a threat or not. It is my job to keep the area safe and to do investigations the bomb squad cannot do. They will be focusing on the potential bomb.
For this situation I am assuming that the potential bomb is large enough to do significant damage. The bomb that caused so much devastation at the Atlanta Olympics was in a backpack, and I am going to hypothesize a backpack for this scenario.
This presents a problem in a mall, because teenagers frequently hang out in a mall, and the backpack might contain nothing more dangerous than the student's report card. However, I do not know that and cannot confirm that because I do not have those skills.
The first rule for this situation is "Hands Off the Package.” That means that I do not approach it. I do not move it, even though by moving it, I might think I might reduce its risk. That's not my job. It's my job to not touch it and to make sure that no one else does either. Since this is an indoor restaurant in a mall, the risk of an ambush seems remote, but bombs can have all sorts of triggers. Moving it would not only change the crime scene but might trigger the bomb to explode as well.
Twenty years ago, a backpack left in a mall would not have drawn a crowd, but that was before such events as the Atlantic Olympic bombing. Even though it was an onlooker who may have notified the police of the potential IED, now it is time for people to move away. I will have to tell people this clearly and calmly, but firmly.
I need to tell them a specific route to take to minimize contamination to the
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