After a suspicious package — which eventually turned out to be sunflower seeds — caused mayhem at the Central Dakota Frontier Cooperative in Hettinger Tuesday, July 31, Bowman County Police Chief Charles Headley spoke to the Pioneer about the dangers of dealing with unknown packages.
By Chris Slone
According to Headley, dealing with an unknown package, there is no way to calculate the blast radius. There are different size bombs — all featuring different components. There’s checmical bombs. There’s standard black powder bombs. There’s military grade type of explosives; not to mention the detonation devices. Some devices can be set off using cell phones.
“That’s why you want to be concerned having anybody close by and having cells phones or even police radios,” Headley said.
Headley said when the Bowman City Police are called to the scene, they first setup a perimeter and they also turn their radios off so the frequencies don’t trip up any unknown devices.
As far as residents in the area who are watching the chaos, Headley stressed safety first.
“There’s just a number of ways where you can trigger an explosive device,” Headley said. “Depending on the size of the package and the explosives, and the possibility of it throwing off shrapnel, you really want to maintain a good distance and that means keep everybody away as far as possible.”
According to Headley, when a situation occurs, the police will set up a perimeter and perform an evacuation. Then, they will start gathering as much information as possible about the unknown package.
Headley said a situation occurred last fall with an unknown package. It was actually a box of books left at the courthouse at noon. However, there was no postage or information on the box.
“It became suspicious and the sheriff’s department called us to assist,” Headley said. “We blocked off the road and started asking around.”
The package ended up being some old law book that a retired judge had left by the front door because the office was closed at the time he was returning them.
“It turned out to be something completely harmless,” Headley said.
The Bowman Fire Department was on standby to assist. The courthouse was evacuated. Once word got around, the retired judge came forward because he had seed he commotion.
“It was completely innocent, but it was a suspicious looking package,” Headley said. “Of course, government buildings are a prime spot for people to leave bombs at.”