For the second time in two weeks, the Albany Jewish Community Center and similar Jewish centers across the country received bomb threats on Tuesday.
The threat against the Sidney Albert Albany JCC was received about 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and was similar to a call received on Jan 18 that officials determined was a hoax. Police investigated and cleared the scene after about two hours. In both incidents, police said the caller sounded like a woman.
"We swept the entire building and there was no evidence of or any device found inside the building," said Albany Police Department spokesman Officer Steven Smith.
He said the police brought in bomb-sniffing dogs from the state police, Troy Police Department and Albany County Sheriff's Department, with four trained dogs going through the building, which is located on Whitehall Road.
Police are working with the FBI to determine whether the various threats are related. "It was an actual person who called," Smith said. "It was not a robo-call."
As happened on Jan. 18, the Albany center was one of a number across the country that received threats, all at about the same time. The Jewish Community Center in DeWitt, outside Syracuse, also received a threat, according to the Syracuse Post-Standard.
Albany JCC Executive Director Adam Chaskin said the call received Tuesday morning was "deemed credible," leading to a decision to evacuate staff from the building until the Albany Police Department could investigate and declare the scene safe.
"Unfortunately, these threats are happening across the country and the world," Chaskin said. "We are working with our local police as well as national authorities on the matter."
The Schenectady JCC in Niskayuna has not received any threats, but after the previous threat it wrote to its members reassuring that it has procedures in place to deal with any threats and to maintain the physical safety of those using its programs.
At least 14 Jewish centers in 10 states and one Canadian province received threats on Tuesday, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency website. The agency said about 30 organizations received threats in the Jan. 18 incident. Some others, though not Albany, received bomb threat calls earlier in January.
Jewish community centers in Milwaukee, San Diego, Salt Lake City, Orlando, and Worcester, Massachusetts, are among the others that received threats on Tuesday.
The Jewish Community Center Association of North America, a national organization that coordinates security training for local centers, said safety is a top priority, and the threatened centers followed established best practices in dealing with the threats.
"We are concerned about the anti-Semitism behind these threats," said David Posner, the association's director of strategic performance. "All threats from the previous two dates have been determined to be hoaxes. The FBI is actively investigating the source or sources of these calls."