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Tuesday, July 5, 2022


A special operations officer reached the Reichhold Center 10 minutes before the police unit did Saturday night in response to a bomb threat called in at around 8:30 p.m., the acting police chief said Monday.
That officer is stationed near the University of the Virgin Islands campus, said acting Chief Jose Garcia, who was responding to criticism that the police took 45 minutes to respond to calls about the bomb threat and then were unprepared once they did arrive.
"Since (David) Edgecombe had already done a great job of implementing his own evacuation plan, the officer saw no reason to do a search at night," Garcia said.
The chief said it is normal procedure for a responding officer to clear the premises of a bomb threat and then determine if a specialist should be called in.
"We don't go rushing in there with lots of sirens and noise," he said. "Our line officers are not equipped to deal with that."
The next step, if a specialist is called in, is to search the area -— usually with the explosive detection canine.
Garcia said there are two bomb specialists on the force, a detection technician who works with the investigations bureau and a canine officer who handles the dog.
"The canine specialist saw no reason to go back and get the dog out of its kennel that night. The people were secure and it would have been impossible to search that whole building -— the stage and seats, everything -— in the dark," Garcia explained. "We came back in the morning and did a search, and then another one in the afternoon before the show."
What happens if a bomb is found?
According to Garcia, there is no equipment on St. Thomas to deal with a bomb.
"We call Roosevelt Roads [Naval base in Puerto Rico] and they can get here with their equipment within two hours," he said.
Bomb threats are relatively rare in St. Thomas, Garcia said, but he recalled a rash of calls to Charlotte Amalie High School "awhile back."
"Even if we think it's a hoax, we have to take action, but we don't make a lot of noise about it," he said.
In the case of the bomb threats at the high school, Garcia said the police evacuated the students to the field outside, did a thorough search of the campus and then sent the students back to class.
Garcia got to see the rescheduled "Women in Reggae Show" on Sunday night because he agreed to stay there all evening to provide security for Reichhold.
"It was a wonderful show," he said. "Everybody loved it. The audience clapped
so much the performers had to keep coming back over and over."
Reichhold spokesperson Renee Heider estimated the crowd Sunday night to be about 400 people -— about half the number evacuated during Saturday night's performance.
Editor's note: See earlier story on the bomb threat and police response.

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