The pre-dawn bomb blast boosted Spokane to its highest state of alert ever on Monday and sent city workers on searches of government buildings, dams and bridges.
Police Chief Terry Mangan said the city was placed on a level 4 alert after the bomb damage was discovered outside the east doors of City Hall.
The city has seven levels of increasingly tighter security procedures. Spokane had been at level 2 since the system was implemented, shortly before the Persian Gulf War, Mangan said.
He declined to offer details about differences in the city’s alert levels. “By policy, we don’t discuss the procedures or what triggers each level,” he said. The blast caused the security level to jump two notches.
The alert system is part of a counter-terrorism response the city implemented during the buildup of U.S. and allied troops in the Middle East before the war with Iraq.
At that time, the city trained more than 80 employees in different departments to conduct searches of their offices or facilities.
“The best searches are always done by the people who are responsible for that area,” Mangan said. “They are aware of what’s supposed to be there, and what’s not.”
Employees have checklists to take them through the search procedures, which Mangan said are confidential.
If they find anything out of the ordinary, they call police.
The counter-terrorism response teams were called as soon as the blast damage was discovered Monday. The sweeps at buildings other than City Hall began about 7 a.m. and were completed two hours later.
Nothing unusual was found.
City Hall workers, who were rerouted to the Spokane Arena Monday morning, were given instructions on searching for suspicious objects.
“When you return to your work stations, do so with a critical view as to what items are present and that should not or have not been there,” employees were told in a memo each was handed before returning to City Hall.
They were warned against touching or moving any suspicious object.
City workers also were told to be alert for suspicious-looking people entering city buildings for the next two days.
“Those without apparent business or who are unusually without a purpose should be brought to your supervisors’ attention for possible relay to the Police Department,” said instructions each city worker was given.
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