Bomb Threat at Comerica Stadium

Last night’s bomb threat at Comerica Stadium, Detroit’s third in less than a week, has
officially been called another hoax. Earlier this week bomb threats were called into the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit Windsor international tunnel. The bridge and tunnel threats prompted an immediate evacuation of traffic while bomb-sniffing dogs and police searched the areas for any signs of explosives.


However, last night as 40,000 fans watched the Tigers beat the Dodgers 7 – 2, there was
no evacuation as police and bomb-sniffing dogs surreptitiously maneuvered through the
stadium seeking out any potential threat of a bomb that had been called into 911 earlier
during the game.


Many fans did not learn of the threat until reading about it this morning. One fan, who
was interviewed by the press, expressed his concern by simply stating, “What if?” What
if the threat had been legitimate? What if people’s lives were in danger? What if there
wasn’t enough time to evacuate?


His concern raises the troublesome question of just how seriously authorities should take
unverified threats. Is it better to inform and evacuate large crowds immediately or wait to
see if the threat can be substantiated before informing and evacuating? Does an
individual have a right to know if their safety is threatened, even if that threat is
unsubstantiated?


In a statement made to ABC news, Steve Layne of Layne Consultants International, a
safety consulting group, commented that if evacuations occurred every time there was a
bomb threat, “There would be a lot of empty places.” He said, “An evacuation in the
middle of a ball game does cause some problems. You’re running the risk of causing
injuries.”


Though Mr. Layne makes a valid point, it is still a surprise to see less precaution taken
with the threat at Comerica Stadium in light of the two recent threats in Detroit.
Ambassador Bridge and Detroit Windsor tunnel had been evacuated before authorities
searched for evidence of the threats. Last night’s threat to Comerica Stadium, although
meeting stadium safety protocol, was not evacuated as the other two threatened areas had
been.
A spokesperson for the police department’s Homeland Security unit said that a decision
to evacuate is predicated on finding a device. This statement, juxtaposed with the
previous two threats seems inconsistent, as there had been no device found prior to
evacuating the bridge or the tunnel.


In a post-9/11 world, it is evident that the relationship between individual rights and
national security often becomes blurred; at times the latter arguably jeopardizes the
former. The decisions that authorities have to make in response to threats of public safety
are not easy ones. Taking into account the fact that since 9/11 there have not been any
terrorist attacks in the U.S., authorities have done a tremendous job in protecting us. But
the question still remains, “What if?”