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Amnesty Boxes: A Component of Physical Security for Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin Volume: 72 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2003 Pages: 7-9
Charlie Mesloh M.P.A; Mark Henych M.S.; Randy Mingo M.P.A
Date Published
January 2003
3 pages
This article examines the usefulness of amnesty boxes for promoting physical safety.
The authors present a case study of the University of Central Florida in order to examine whether amnesty boxes can be effectively used to diffuse the potential for security threats at major events. Amnesty boxes are sealed containers that are placed before metal detectors or search checkpoints. These boxes are designed to let people carrying contraband to deposit their contraband before the possibility of detection. The policy is to ask no questions about materials found in the amnesty boxes. The boxes and their contents are seized and kept by police but no effort is placed on finding or arresting individuals who may have deposited items in the boxes. In September of 2001, the University of Central Florida received intelligence that a terrorist attack was planned for a concert occurring on campus. The police placed amnesty boxes around the concert hall in an effort to diffuse physical security threats. The use of the boxes at this event was thought to be a success because it decreased the chances of individuals being arrested at the doors. Amnesty boxes also increased the visibility of law enforcement at the event. Many signs called attention to the fact that police searches were possible, while other signs alerted patrons to the presence of the amnesty boxes. In conclusion, since the test run at the University of Central Florida went well, amnesty boxes may present a desirable option for future security measures.