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Association News

Executive Director's Message, April 2018

Serial Bomber Poses Challenging Risk

By Executive Director Sue Riseling

The serial bomber in the Austin, Texas, area once again demonstrated that our world is a dangerous place.  All around the globe, people wondered what could possibly motivate an individual to commit such terrible acts of cruelty and violence. Two people lost their lives and several more were injured. 

Most serial bombing cases take years to solve. And while law enforcement methodically works the case, the danger lurks for the public.  Austin officials were aided early on by their federal partners.  The second blast occurred ten days after the first bombing.  It was then that local law enforcement realized they had a serial bomber and called for additional help. Quickly their local, state, and federal partners responded to the escalation.  The round-the-clock investigation brought resources from far and wide. Using the latest in technology and a lot of good old-fashioned policing—canvassing neighborhoods, reviewing digital recordings, ferreting out details—investigators chased the most promising leads.  The cooperation between law enforcement and the private sector was strong, as the tracking of materials used in the bombings continued into the stores where they had been purchased.

Most likely on his way to harm someone else, the suspect was stopped. Yet he denotated another device and died within sight of the law enforcement officers determined to stop him before he could harm another member of the public.  Seventeen days after the initial bomb blast, the community could begin to breathe easier.  In this case, law enforcement was amazingly swift.

As one would expect, while this was happening the city of Austin and the surrounding jurisdictions were flooded with calls of suspicious packages.  The patrol officers went from call to call, summoning ordinance K-9 units and bomb technicians as they continued to encourage the public to report suspicious packages.

Like most of you, we at IACLEA watched and hoped the police would be able to bring an end to this violence rapidly.  We also moved quickly to convene an Emerging Issues training on this subject, so that you can hear from experts about what you need to be mindful of when facing these types of challenges—if you ever face them. We know partnerships work best in challenging and multifaceted cases.  

When IACLEA relocated from Connecticut to Silver Spring, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC, last year, one driving factor was to increase the strength of our partnerships with federal agencies and policing and public safety organizations. Our director of government and external relations and other staff now routinely do this to strengthen the resources and expertise that we can deliver to you.

Partnerships are needed at every step:  to help prevent these incidents and to respond when they occur. Partnerships teach us all the lessons learned.          

NOTE: The Emerging Issues briefing call on explosives will be held Friday, April 13 at 2 pm with ATF. Experts will provide an overview of types of bombs that are easily made, tips for dealing with suspicious packages, what to do if a device detonates, and common bomb-making components. The call will last for approx. 45 minutes. This call is for IACLEA members only and members of their staff. Josh Bronson posted the call-in information in IACLEA-L in CONNECTIONS on March 29. Pre-registration is not required. Questions prior to or during the call: contact Josh at

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