U.S. Army Europe leaders are making it crystal clear that people making fake bomb threats will be punished.
“Folks need to know this is not funny; it wastes time and money,” said Lt. Col. Carol McKinney with the U. S. Army, Europe provost marshal office.
Servicemembers who pull such stunts will be charged with communicating a threat or bomb threat, under Article 134 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, and could face further punishment by individual commanders, she said.
And civilians will be charged by host-nation police with communicating a threat, Colonel McKinney said.
Plus all persons involved will be taken into custody.
“This is not a (sudden) crackdown,” Colonel McKinney said. “It’s always been taken seriously.”
The most recent incident occurred July 27 in Heidelberg during a force protection drill, which confused some participants into thinking a fake bomb threat was part of an exercise. It wasn’t, and the perpetrator was detained.
With apprehension comes a price.
Offenders in Germany, for example, can expect to pay at least €2,000 – the fine emergency responders charge when answering self-caused emergencies, Colonel McKinney said.
Additionally, GS civilians can be barred from the military installation and returned stateside. And if the offender is a military family member, he or she also can be returned stateside.
Of the last four incidents in Heidelberg, one culprit was a Soldier and the others were family members or civilian employees, Colonel McKinney said, adding that diversity among the offenders makes it harder to decipher why people commit such acts.
“It seems people just do it to do it,” Colonel McKinney said.
What they do have in common, she noted, “is wasting (responders’) time, keeping them from other real important emergencies.”
The fake bomb threat is a recurring trend in military installations worldwide. Based on recent talks with the Army’s Force Protection Anti-Terrorism Organization, Colonel McKinney said such incidents are on the increase in the States.
No matter where and how often bomb threats occur, authorities take the incidents seriously and will charge offenders accordingly, Colonel McKinney said.