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David Griffith

David Griffith

David Griffith has been editor of POLICE Magazine since December 2001. He brings more than 25 years of experience on magazines and newspapers to POLICE. A Maggie award-winning journalist, his byline has appeared on hundreds of articles in POLICE and other national magazines.



Melanie Basich

Melanie Basich

Managing Editor Melanie Basich joined POLICE Magazine in 2000 (when her last name was still Hamilton). An award-winning journalist, she has covered such topics as agency budgets, officer suicide, emerging law enforcement technologies, and active shooter tactics. She writes and manages the product section of POLICE.
Editor's Notes

'Genius' Arrested at Boston Airport Wearing Fake Bomb 'Art'

September 21, 2007  |  by - Also by this author

I'm sure you've heard about this one. It's burning up the Net today. But I just had to comment on it.

Massachusetts State Police arrested a 19-year-old MIT student earlier this morning and charged her with disturbing the peace and possessing a hoax device. Here's what Star Simpson reportedly decided was an artistic masterpiece that she had to share with the world.

According to official reports, she went to Logan Airport—departure point for two of the 9/11 flights—wearing a black hooded sweatshirt accessorized with a flashing circuit board attached by visible wires to some Play-Doh, which probably looked an awful lot like C-4.

State Police Maj. Scott Pare told a gathering of reporters that Simpson saw the bomb rig as art. "She was proud of the art and she wanted to display it," he said.

Simpson was stopped outside Terminal C when her "suicide bomber" rig caught the eye of an information booth staffer who called the cops.

A group of State Police troopers, some armed with subguns, confronted her on a traffic island outside of the terminal.

"She was immediately told to stop, to raise her hands, and not to make any movement," Pare said at the press conference. "Had she not followed the protocol, we might have used deadly force."

Major, I'm glad you didn't have to shoot this girl. But um…if she had been a suicide bomber, then your agency's protocol would have just resulted in a lot of severed limbs, shrapnel wounds, flail chests, burning cars, shattered glass, and other really colorful "art."

To be fair, your officers did a good job of stopping her outside of the terminal.

But their actions afterward show how ill prepared we are as a nation to counter the waves of suicide bombers that are sure to be detonating soon at movie theaters, restaurants, grocery stores, and shopping malls near you.

Your protocol begs the question, What would your officers have done if she had made a move? You say they "might" have used deadly force. I hope you really mean that they would have.

And BTW, if she had been a real suicide bomber, commands of "Don't move!" won't work. By the time an officer says "don't," he and everyone nearby will be dead or dying.

Like I said, I'm glad your men didn't have to kill this young woman. It sounds like she did a really stupid thing but did so without malice.

But anyone who thinks that a suicide bomber costume is appropriate apparel for a trip to the airport, should think again. After the first Palestinian-style suicide bomber hits in America, someone wearing "bomb" components for art had better plan on exiting this world as a Jackson Pollock splash of brains and blood on a nearby wall because our nation's cops will have to be strong enough and mean enough to double-tap first, ask questions later.

If that's not enough to darken your dreams, ladies and gentlemen, consider this: Our "artiste" reportedly rode the subway to Logan. It's unknown if she wore her "bomb" on the way. But if she did, that speaks volumes about how vulnerable we are to jihadists who want to meet Allah after being blown to pieces by their own hand.

Have a good weekend.


Comments (7)

Displaying 1 - 7 of 7

editor @ 9/21/2007 2:13 PM

Could you have shot this young woman if you had to? Could you live with it if, after killing her, it was discovered that she didn't have a bomb? Does your agency have a suicide bomber policy?

Lakewood27 @ 9/24/2007 12:04 PM

There is an underlying belief by many in our country that human beings are essentially good and that nobody who really knows us would want to intentionally hurt us. Couple this with the fact that we have been able to keep the global war on terror somewhat removed from our shores and there is an added belief that "it will never happen here." These to beliefs are going to have devastatingly fatal results in our future.

It is unfortunate that America has been "good" for so long that many have forgotten, or choose not to recognize, that true evil exists in the world. We stand to separate the idealists from reality, but we are only so many... Even in the shadow of the 9-11 terror attacks on our nation, we are far enough removed from that horrific day that our people have once again become complacent.

Experience has shown us that it will take a series of suicide attacks to change our attitudes. One will be hailed as a "random" incident - something that is out of the ordinary, so we don't need to "over react" and actually prepare to protect ourselves. When we experience terrorist activity like that experienced in Israel and parts of Europe, then the light will come on and law enforcement will be allowed to do what is necessary to protect our nation and her people.

I'm no advocate for "marial-law" style policing and shooting potential threats on sight, but I also understand that we are not going to be allowed to move to higher ground and dig in until more patriot victims have died at the hands of those who wish to do us harm because our beliefs do not match their own.

henchman222 @ 9/28/2007 2:20 PM

Dear editor,
1) Yes, remember you would need a CNS hit to immediately incapacitate her.
2) Yes, it is her decision to wear this contraption which she designed to look like a bomb, her decision to not immediately comply and her decision to go to the very airport the hi-jackers went to. My decision is to protect others and go home tonight. If someone points a fake gun same answer.
3) Normal use of force/deadly force policy governed by training, statutes and court rulings. And yes we train on Homicide Bomber targets.

Kerry Clark @ 9/28/2007 7:36 PM

Yes I could, as have the other LEO's who have done so. I refer to the plumber shot in Europe for being heavily dressed and running in the right place at the wrong time and the disturbed individual shot by air marshalls here in the US. Can you take the risk? After all, what will a "real" bomb look like? Only a disturbed person wanting a confrontation would wear such "art" to an airport, wait that is the kind of person who makes a suicide bomber isn't it? I am glad the responding LEO's survived, this time.

Collegecop_wa @ 10/3/2007 7:01 AM

You raise some very good points about dealing with suicide bombers. Not to go off the mark here but seeing as the FBI takes pains to remind us that our nation's college campuses are a prime soft target for terrorist suicide bombers one would think we would get more training on this type of situation. After all we have thousands of backpack wearing young people wandering around and we have no clue to what is in those bags or what is on the minds of the people wearing them. It seems prudent to me that we realize how vulnerable our campuses are for terrorist related incidents and take time out to plan, prepare and practice for an event like a suicide bomber or any other viable threat to our students and staff. Then when the situation presents itself both on and off campus law enforcement could have the tools and experience to correctly evaluate the situation and take the appropriate action. Unfortunately the powers that be in Washington state seem to be more concerned with public safety at the 6 four year universities and act like they could care less about the 34 community and technical colleges. I guess things will have to wait until one of those "lesser" campuses has their own massacre before they change their priorities.

jparedes @ 10/5/2007 12:23 PM

Mr Editor:
While working as an inspector in El Tigre, Venezuela, one of the corporals responded to a car-jack call. He took a young officer and radioded for back up. Within few minutes we heard "shots fire" call from the rookie. The corporal had been shot in the face because the rookie hesitated when they confronted the robbers. The corporal survived and still has the .38 lug in the back of his head. Hesitation will get us killed.
Yes, I would have shot. Second, a person who knowingly enters into a situation where she/he is aware of the consequences must be dealt with as a serious threat - joke or not. We all must be accountable for our own acts. This is an area where we can not be held accountable for other people's mistakes or lack of good judgement. If I am chasing a person (who is running from me) and this person stops, turns around and takes a stand pointing an object at me (not hands up in the air-non compliance), I will have to make a split second decision and I do not have the luxury of "bionic man eyesight" to see what it is that he/she is holding. The person being chased has taken the decision to confront a police officer and I will have to take action to end the threat.

axnjxn74 @ 10/18/2007 11:08 AM

Dear editor:

The short answer is, "yes, I'd have shot her in a heartbeat, and slept very well that night after the adrenaline stopped pumping." Having fatally shot a violent offender before, I can say that I would run the situation through over and over in my mind, wondering if there was something different I could have said, some different move I could have made. And, like before, I'd come to the conclusion that she'd have made the choice to die by going to the airport dressed like a suicide bomber. No amount of imagination, short of dangerous psychosis, could construe that as innocent art, or for that matter, anything other than a suicidal gesture. Guess there IS such a thing as terminally stupid, even among the "educated".

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