Cpl. Justin Graham
Date: January 04, 2016 7:53 AM
San Rafael, CA - On Sunday, December 3, 2016, at 4:40 PM, a man with good intentions delivered a possible grenade to the lobby entrance of the San Rafael Police Department. Officers inspected the device that had been delivered in a paper cup and could not immediately determine if the device was real or not.
Officers took precautions and treated the device as though it was real and evacuated the police department which included the San Rafael Police Communications Center that handles the city’s police radio traffic and 9-1-1 emergency calls. Police radio communications and 9-1-1 calls were forwarded to the Marin County Sheriff’s Department Communications Center. Non-emergency phone calls to the police department were delayed. SRPD activated its mobile command center and the San Rafael Fire Department staged fire equipment in the area.
Fifth Avenue between C Street and E Street was closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic during the incident. There was no need to evacuate any other buildings as most of them were outside the area of danger or were city buildings that were closed due to the weekend.
The University of California at Berkeley Police Bomb Disposal Unit was requested and they responded to the scene. Officers interviewed the man who brought the device to the police department and learned that the device had originally been picked up at a residence in the unincorporated area of northern San Rafael.
Marin County Sheriff’s Deputies located the residence and spoke to the owner of the device and were told that it was likely a hollowed out grenade that had been turned into a novelty cigarette lighter. The information was passed along to bomb squad personnel.
A UC Berkeley Police Bomb Squad technician, wearing bomb disposal protective equipment, approached the device and inspected it. It was determined that the device was in fact a hollowed out hand grenade novelty cigarette lighter.
At 6:40 PM, the device was deemed safe and personnel were allowed back into the police department to resume normal operations. The San Rafael Police Communications Center took over police radio traffic and 9-1-1 emergency calls. Fifth Avenue was reopened to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
There were no arrests and no charges requested as a result of this incident. It was apparent that the man who brought the device to the police department was trying to do the right thing and had good intentions.
It is important that if anyone comes across any device they know or may think is an explosive, military ordinance, ammunition, hazardous substance, or any other device/item that appears suspicious or dangerous that they do not attempt to move it or transport it to have it disposed of or inspected. There is significant risk to the person handling the item as well as causing a much larger and more dangerous situation for the general public.
Officials ask the public to leave the device where it was found and call 9-1-1. It is safer for emergency personnel to respond to where the device was found and properly secure it.