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September 19, 2003

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Shawn Hughes WMD and Bomb Disposal Issues
with Shawn Hughes

Introducing PoliceOne Columnist Shawn Hughes

I'm Shawn Hughes and I am your newest expert columnist. I will be covering WMD and Bomb Disposal issues. I'd like to say thanks to PoliceOne for this opportunity to assist you in your job. It's my intention to provide you with clear, concise, and most importantly, non-advertising-driven information.

In my first article, I'd like to start by saying that I do not accept, nor receive, any compensation for any product. So, while you may see an item mentioned by name here occasionally, rest assured that it is here because it is a good thing, and not something I have been pressured or paid to promote.

With that said, I want to take advantage of the interactive ability of the internet; instead of me simply slinging articles about whatever tickles my fancy, if there is something you would like to know more about, or something you'd like to see covered, feel free to email me at srh@esper.com.

Now that the ground rules have been laid, I want to dive right in. I am concerned about Homeland Defense. I think that forming the Department of Homeland Security was a wise move. Prior to this, our abilities as Law Enforcement to operate and communicate cross-jurisdictions was fragmentary at best. It is my hope that DHS will continue to erase the patchwork quilt of agencies and interests, and make getting help to the front-line Patrolmen and Investigators a one-click deal.

However, one positive that may turn into a negative is the sudden influx of grant funding for Homeland Defense. Now, don't misunderstand my intent; grant money is good money. But, money spent on unsuitable or frivolous gear is wasted money. There are many who hold the purse strings that do not necessarily have a firm grasp on what the needs of the department are, and these people also seem to be easily swayed by a flashy presentation.

In the next months, one segment of my articles will be devoted to WMD Equipment. Up front, I will tell you, until your department has equipped every officer with a negative pressure air purifying respirator, level C jumpsuit with booties and hood, gloves, tape and TRAINED you in their use, that they have no business buying detection gear, special response vehicles, decon trailers, or anything else. And, I don't mean equipping a special WMD unit, I mean an ensemble for every potential responder. The reasons are many; the equipment I recommend, few. In subsequent articles I will tackle one segment and give you the reasons why I arrived at the decisions I did.

Finally, there is a whirlwind of pending legislation and regulatory action concerning the Patrolman and their response to a WMD event. Looming on the horizon from OSHA, NFPA, NIOSH, EPA, and others are rules that will regulate what you can wear, what training you must receive, and standards the equipment you buy (or have bought, hint, hint) must meet. Not all of this will be bad, guys; some of the gear being hawked right now needs some regulation. The unscrupulous always target the unknowledgable.

In closing, I hope my articles will be an excellent source of information for you, and be a resource you can use when suggesting changes to your administrators.

About the author

Shawn Hughes is an often controversial veteran Patrol Officer and Bomb Technician who now works for a Federal agency, but still consults for various agencies and private corporations when he isn’t writing or teaching. His articles have been published in three countries on two continents. He's written for the majority of law enforcement publications in the US, including the NTOA’s Tactical Edge, the IABTI’s Detonator, SWAT, Police, and others. His second book, on obtaining a job in Law Enforcement, is out now, with a third on lock technology in development. He can be reached at srh@esper.com .






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