View Full Version : Communications break down during Conn. bomb scare

12-05-2005, 03:32 PM
Communications break down during Conn. bomb scare
Associated Press (http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/C/COURTHOUSE_EVACUATIONS?SITE=FLSTU&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT)

Connecticut homeland security officials were left in the dark for more than two hours Friday after a series of bomb threats forced the evacuation and shutdown of the state's 45 courthouses, authorities acknowledged Monday.

Neither police nor Gov. M. Jodi Rell's office - which received one of the bomb threats at 10 a.m. - had informed the security agency by noon, leaving top officials to learn about the first-of-its-kind evacuation from reporters.

"We know we have to work very closely together and we're hoping the situation we experienced Friday won't be replicated," said James Thomas, commissioner of the Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.

Public Safety Commissioner Leonard Boyle said the threat fell between the cracks because it was more than a routine scare but did not rise to level of a statewide emergency.

"We're going to come up with a system, either by blast fax or e-mail, that will notify all state agencies when something like this arises," Boyle said. "When we have information that's important to get out statewide, but that isn't an emergency, we need a better way."

Had a bomb exploded, Thomas would have been in charge of coordinating the response. He said he and Boyle spoke Monday and agreed that the system must be improved.

The bomb threat, which police believe was a hoax designed to disrupt court business, was one of the first tests of Rell's homeland security communications. The Department of Emergency Management and Homeland Security was formed in part to improve communication between agencies.

Rell's spokesman, Judd Everhart, said Thomas should have been notified of the threat and evacuations.

"The governor has directed Commissioner Boyle to tighten the communications plan among state agencies so there is better and faster communication in an emergency," Everhart said.

Boyle said homeland security officials were not immediately informed because the threat was not specific, investigators couldn't determine its credibility and there was no indication of terrorism.

But if it was important enough to evacuate the judicial system, Thomas should have been called, Boyle said. He said local police have also complained that they were not notified. Local police will be included in any new statewide communication system, Boyle said.

While Thomas said he should have known about the threat earlier, he said State Police did the right thing by clearing the courthouses immediately.

"If I'm notified after everyone is safe and secure, that's OK," Thomas said.

Chief State's Attorney Christopher Morano, whose prosecutors were working throughout the judicial system, echoed that Monday, saying the first priority was clearing the courthouses.

"I believe the State Police did an admirable job making contact with judicial officials, with my office and the people on the front lines being exposed," Morano said. "I think they also did a great job investigating immediately. Every time you have an incident you can learn from it, but I'd leave it to them."

After police monitored courthouses over the weekend and reported no problems, courts opened as usual Monday. Courts in New Britain and Bristol were briefly evacuated after police received another threat Monday morning.

Police were investigating whether the same person made threats both Friday and Monday.

12-05-2005, 05:02 PM
Pilot Reports 'Missile' Fired at Jetliner Near LAX (11/28/05)


FBI agents and Homeland Security officials spent the weekend investigating the report of a possible missile fired at an American Airlines plane taking off from Los Angeles International Airport. Sources tell ABC News the pilot of American Airlines Flight 621, en route to Chicago, radioed air traffic controllers after takeoff from LAX. He told them a missile had been fired at the aircraft and missed.

The plane was over water when the pilot said he saw a smoke trail pass by the cockpit.

FBI agents believe it was a flare or a bottle rocket, but say they may never know if that's what it actually was.

12-05-2005, 05:03 PM
Whats a 'bottle rocket'?