I can't help but agree Jerry that someone in Boston should have been better knowledged in the similar events in other cities - surely HINDSITE is 20/20 and there is not second guessing. Is it ALWAYS better to react then not? I think it a bit of a stretch though to assume the police know what is going on at the Cartoon Channel.
Before 9-11 on our Naval Base we had a bomb alert, no other info was disclosed except a threat existed. A coworker noticed what appeared to be a NEW BOX (about the size of a shoebox) on top of an oil tank holding 240 thousand gallons of fuel. What was his obligation at this point, to contact the other bases and see if THEY also had boxes placed on top of their oil tanks or alert security and let them handle it?
He contacted Security who evacuated part of the facility within a given perimeter, only us sad-saps in the power plant left to fend for ourselves. It was nearly two hours before someone climbed to the top of the tank and found that it was a left-over box from tank-level sensors which were installed about a week before, they forgot to remove the box and it finally blew over toward the tank ladder and got wedged.
It was a big deal with no pay-off at the end except a well practiced drill, which I'll say was greatly attended to by many departments I had never seen before on the base. The attention it got was over-kill but who knew it, a suspicious box and a quarter-million gallons of fuel oil.
Here is a different but true story
Back in 1994 my father was adding a back porch to our house. He broke the foundation under our propane tank and moved the tank. He started to dig out for the new porch foundation and hit something with the shovel. He got a shovel under it and pulled out the object, handing it to me.
Now, I don't know anything about missiles or explosives, but I recognise a GIANT BULLET when I see one! He handed to me (what we found out later) was a live 75mm mortar shell, it was as rusty as the Titanic at the bottom of the ocean and as heavy as a bucket full of water - it was about 16+ inches long and I was a bit concerned about knowing this thing was intact.
Again my Dad's wishes (he wanted to toss it in the dumpster down the road - lol) I chose to call the police after laying it down at the edge of our drive way. The police came and my father started kicking at it with his foot while telling the cop that he found it while digging. The cop said "Stop kicking it" with eyes bulging out of his head - he drove down the street to use his radio.
Now... before I go on, no one started digging up other people's backyard or looking under their propane tanks for bombs, what happened was pretty much new and different to us. Both us and every home for 2 blocks in all directions were evacuated, we were sent down town and in the following order, Naval, Air Force and Army Police asked us to explain what had happened, as they awaited the bomb robot and explosive truck to show up - ugh.
Half the town was there waiting for something, I was hearing all kinds of stories spreading and even had someone tell me someone was held up in their home with weapons and hostages. My Dad still swore afterwards it would have been so much easier to toss it in the dumpster.
The bomb truck showed up, the robot went in and checked the shell, it was taken then by a suited expert into the truck and returned to Fort Dix Army Base (15 miles from here) and then detonated - it was live and our Naval Based figured that it must have been buried in landfill sold from the base decades before when they had a joint effort with the town to improve joint property. The area used for landfill was at one time a shelling practice area and everything was SNAFU on how a live shell somehow went unnoticed and made its way to the public.
I don't know when this could have happened, surely at least a decade before we moved into the house in 1963, maybe another decade before then. But somehow it made it from the base and to our backyard and (of all places) buried under our propane tank. I'm really surprise it was as stable as it was, my tale may have had a very different end if my Dad had whacked it the wrong way with the shovel.
I don't think anything over-kill was done here, we had a live explosive and even it was a dud, who was going to argue that point - surely not me and definitely not that cop - lol.
I can't look back and read the minds of the Police in Boston, but they erred on the safe side and it showed they had forces in place to handle what might have been a real event. I still say it did more damage then good by exposing how a major city was equipped for a terrorist emergency. I would imagine that any plan found in a major city would mimic similar plans in other major cities. Surely there are unique differences from city to city, but generically in the eyes of Homeland Security - all cities are pretty much the same.