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February 09, 2007
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Shawn Hughes WMD and Bomb Disposal Issues
with Shawn Hughes

Bomb Tech weighs in on ad campaign turned "bomb scare"

Relative to other countries, we in the United States have enjoyed a history devoid of turbulence in the Homeland. We’ve fought mostly on other shores. We haven’t had 20 years of car bombs like the British. We haven’t had a thousand years of invaders like Europe, or five thousand of warring religious factions like the Middle East.

So, in this light, we are still in the “feeling our way around” phase.

Enter the Aqua Teen Hunger Force.


Ignignokt sign closeup (from the net)
Who, you may ask?? The Aqua Teens (or ATHF for short) are an animated trio whose hijinks I have thoroughly enjoyed for many years now. So, imagine my amusement to find a guerilla campaign to promote this show (as if it really needed it within its demographics).

An advertising company made illuminated signs in the shape of one of the show's minor characters, and stuck them in strange places all over the country.

The result? Two in jail and several signs successfully disrupted.

There are a lot of people right now panning the actions of the police, and Bomb Technicians aren’t being cast in a favorable light. I will say that I don’t entirely agree with all of the assessments made, but let's look for a second at what really happened:

An officer on routine patrol or a concerned citizen noticed something they considered suspicious.

Hazardous Devices Units country-wide started responding almost simultaneously to reports of suspicious objects affixed to critical structures; bridges, buildings. Upon arrival, they found an item (that’s right, anything with parts that does something is a device, not an item) they hadn't seen before, either as a bomb or as a legit product.

Investigating further, they could find no apparent purpose for it, but they could find a power supply and timing circuitry.

So now you have an "unattended package affixed to a sensitive structure with a power supply and a timing circuit."

See how perspective can change things? In this light, I can absolutely make a case for energetic disruption being the order of the day. But I also know what Ignignokt (the name of the character on the sign) looks like. No matter, history is replete with bombs concealed in toys, valuables, or other innocuous items.

In other words, the system worked as it should.

So, before you all go poking fun at your Techs, take a second to look at it from their side.


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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