State workers sweat out bomb threat after police cuts

State workers were stranded in near-record heat for hours today after a bomb threat was sent to Gov. Bev Perdue. Lawmakers just laid off the only bomb dog team on the State Capitol Police force.

Posted Updated
Laura Leslie

State workers at the Department of Administration and the old Capitol Building in Raleigh were stranded in near-record heat for hours today after a bomb threat was sent to the public email account of Gov. Bev Perdue.

Perdue’s office says they don't yet have details on the threat, reported at about 4:45 p.m. this afternoon. Perdue was not in Raleigh at the time. But it was still convincing enough for the State Capitol police to evacuate employees in those buildings for two and a half hours.

One evacuee, N.C. Human Relations Commission director John Campbell, said on Facebook he and his colleagues were still waiting for bomb dogs to show up at the DOA more than an hour after the threat was called in.

State Capitol Police Sgt. David Richards said it was handled as well as it could have been. Richards said the bomb threat email didn’t reference any particular issue. “It just said there was a bomb in the governor’s office. We weren’t sure which one they meant,” he said. The governor has offices in both the old Capitol and the Department of Administration building.

The State Capitol Police budget was slashed by half in the latest state budget. They no longer maintain a patrol unit in each building, Richards said, but units responding on foot were on the scene almost immediately.

The bomb dogs had to be called in from Raleigh Police Department. They arrived at about 6:00 p.m.

The State Capitol Police used to have its own bomb dog, Dasty, handled by Sgt. Matt Davis. But Davis was laid off due to budget cuts, and Dasty was retired with him.

“The dog died two weeks later,” Richards said. Dasty had cancer, discovered late. “At that point in time, he doesn’t have [state veterinary] insurance to cover the vet bill,” Richards said. "It’s too bad."

But even if the State Capitol police had had Dasty on hand to help, it wouldn’t have been sped up the process much, Richards said, citing the size of the seven-story DOA building. “It would have taken more than one dog, anyway,” he said. “Their nose is only good for about one floor. You’d have to call in other dogs from Fayetteville or Raleigh.”

The two buildings were cleared without incident at 7:15 p.m.

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