Suspicious package? Or unattended package?

Monica Mendoza
Kaiserslautern American

A simple nametag on a gym bag, briefcase or package could help keep the Ramstein community safe and save security forces time and energy in investigating “suspicious packages.”

In recent weeks, the Ramstein security forces control center has taken an increased number of calls about suspicious packages. Officials attribute the reports to an alert community, one paying attention to its surroundings.
“Thankfully, none of them have been the result of an intended threat to the installation,” said Maj. Andrea Begel, 435th Security Forces Squadron commander. 

At a time of heightened sensitivity about community safety, an out-of-place box or bag can seem dubious.

Major Begel said residents could alleviate safety concerns by keeping track of their possessions, never leaving them unattended.

“The last three incidents we had were clearly unintentional,” Major Begel said. While residents are encouraged to report any suspicious package or object to the security forces control center, officials offer some tips and guidelines to stay safe and avoid overextending manpower and resources.

– Talk to your co-workers and family members about their responsibility to secure their belongings and never leave items unattended in public areas.
– Place identification tags on backpacks, gym bags, and briefcases.

– Before contacting security forces, ask employees in the area if the package or object is theirs or whether anyone observed how the object got there.
– Without moving or opening the object, closely inspect the exterior to see if there are labels or tags, which might indicate ownership. If so, take down the information and give it to authorities, who will attempt to contact the owner. Do not allow additional personnel access to the immediate area.
– If you believe your safety to be in question, evacuate the area and contact the security forces control center at 06371-47-2050. 
“The most important thing is to remain calm and exercise judgment,” Major Begel said. “If at anytime they believe they are at risk, they need to immediately contact authorities. But, if there is a reasonable explanation that can be explored, we ask that they do that before we commit the time and resources that it takes to resolve the incident.”