The Boston bombing has spurred alert citizens to spot more suspicious packages in metro Atlanta since then, causing the police to scramble.
So far all have turned out to be duds.
Checking out suspicious packages drives up costs in allocation of personnel, especially if SWAT teams, bomb and helicopter squads are called out.
“As has been tragically demonstrated, not only in Boston but even here in Atlanta, lives are at stake,” said Atlanta Police spokesman Carlos Campos. “It’s difficult, however, to calculate a cost on the saving of lives and peace of mind. We have encouraged — and continue to encourage — citizens to call 911 if they see something suspicious.”
Campos said there had been an increase in suspicious package sightings since the Monday bombing at the Boston Marathon. He noted there were five reported in all city areas before Monday; since the bombing, 15 were reported, not including those at the airport.
Including such reports at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, there were 98 since Monday. The airport had 168 such reports in the first two weeks of the month.
On Friday, two suspicious packages, like those reported before, turned out to be harmless.
Around 11:30 a.m. Friday, the second suspicious package of the morning was reported at the Georgia 400 Toll Plaza, disrupting southbound lanes and MARTA train service.
The all-clear was sounded and Ga. 400 reopened about 12:15 p.m. There was no immediate word on what was inside that package.
Earlier Friday, the busy northwest Atlanta intersection of Howell Mill and Collier roads was shut down about two hours during the morning commute while authorities investigated a backpack.
Shelley Sweeney, who lives in the nearby Springlake neighborhood, was walking her dog when she encountered police blocking Howell Mill and Collier roads after a black backpack was found near the swings in Ellsworth Park.
“It’s very disconcerting, for obvious reasons,” Sweeney told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’m just hoping it’s resolved quickly and turns out to be nothing.”
The bomb squad opened the backpack and found stuffed animals inside.
Contents of this week’s other suspicious packages, which have snarled traffic wherever they were reported, have ranged from magazines to to nothing but air.
Atlanta police and firefighters, sometimes bolstered by state and federal authorities, have treated all the reports seriously.
Thursday evening, the intersection of Peachtree and 4th streets was blocked off after someone noticed a computer bag left on top of a garbage can.
The Atlanta police bomb squad was called to the scene. The bag was empty.
A day earlier, the bomb squad blew up an unmarked cardboard box a deliveryman had left inside the Wells Fargo Bank on Roswell Road at West Wieuca Road.
The box contained Buckhead guidebook magazines.
On Tuesday, a police SWAT team went to Turner Field after ballpark security officers found what appeared to be a suspicious electronic device under a garbage can on the sidewalk near the entry gates.
That device also turned out to be harmless.