Do we have to treat every abandoned package like it’s a bomb?

Photo courtesy of
‘matt’s suspicious package returns from lunch’
courtesy of ‘wetwebwork’

As I write this, 14th street is FUBAR between Rhode Island Ave NW and Q St NW because someone forgot to take their backpack, or their box of paper napkins, or threw out a small sealed box.  Have we gone too far with our treatment of these abandoned items?  Must every little thing somehow be a threat that requires the closures of whole blocks while the bomb squad is summoned, and hits a Transformer on the way to the site, and then declares the box to be napkins or newspaper or a dead newt?

But the question is: why do we so badly overreact to this whole thing?  Why do we have to seal off the block and prevent traffic going through so we can figure out it’s a box of napkins?  Have there ever actually been an IED or a bomb in one of those backpacks or boxes?  Or is it just Johnny’s school books or a dead old backpack?

Either way, something’s gotta give here.  I think that there ought to be fines for causing one of these events.  You want to shut down a block of DC by carelessly leaving something behind? If we can trace it back to you, that’s a $5,000 fine.  Fewer packages, AND a line item for assholes in the DC Budget.  Hell, it can go to fund the Bomb Squad.

I live and work in the District of Columbia. I write at We Love DC, a blog I helped start, I work at Technolutionary, a company I helped start, and I’m happy doing both. I enjoy watching baseball, cooking, and gardening. I grow a mean pepper, keep a clean scorebook, and wash the dishes when I’m done. Read Why I Love DC.

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4 thoughts on “Do we have to treat every abandoned package like it’s a bomb?

  1. Great idea Tom. I agree there should be a fine for leaving you bag or package somewhere! If there’s a big a** fine for parking in the fire lane, there should be one for this! Hip Hip Hooray to Tom!

  2. A fine for being forgetful? I think that’s a little over the top. People have been forgetting things for centuries now. The only thing that has changed is the way we handle items.

    Treating every lost backpack, box or bag as a suspicious item is what is really wrong here. Sending out the bomb squad every time a backpack gets found having been left behind is security theater at its finest. Let’s give it a rest, okay?

  3. I agree. Something has to give. This is the second one in a week in the same area; the first one was when someone threw a brown purse on top of the low roof at 7-11 at 14th and Rhode Island. People were “locked” in their buildings and traffic came to stop.

  4. I have asked this numerous times

    I remember when I first heard these stories, I got worried…..then I saw what people mean by “suspicious” and I roll my eyes at it

    A left over package is not always freakin suspicious and it shuts down that part of the damn city