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February 19, 2004
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Shawn Hughes WMD and Bomb Disposal Issues
with Shawn Hughes

Recent news from the bomb, WMD world

Hello again!

We have a bunch of things to cover in this article, let's get started!

Firefighters Killed
I realize this has little to do with bombs or WMDs, but it's a situation I feel needs to be addressed. I wasn't there, nor do I know any of the principals firsthand, but from what I have been told, two firefighters were shot, one killed while responding to a Domestic Violence call in Lexington, KY recently. Apparently, an Emotionally Disturbed person decided the clones had gone too far, then decided to take matters into his own hands; shooting to death his 60 year old wife, a police cruiser, two firefighters, and directly causing the injuries of a responding Patrolman before being brought into custody.

According to news station LEX 18, ". . .as the firefighters bent down to a woman lying on the ground in front of a home, shots rang out."

I don't intend this as armchair quarterbacking, but maybe right now is a good time to review your policies involving hot calls, shots fired calls, Domestic Violence and / or EDP calls.

Prudent, forward-thinking agencies will encourage Fire Departments and EMS Crews to 'stage', or set up nearby while Law Enforcement makes the scene safe. Even if there is a fire, or obvious injured, today most EMS and Fire personnel do not have the equipment (shields, vests) nor the training to approach a still-hostile subject. That's kind of our 'bag', baby, to quote a movie.

I expect Fire and EMS to be as brave, or braver than we (they work unarmed, after all), but even then, there are still unacceptable risks, and approaching a hot scene should be recognized as one of those.

Collar Bombing
Another topic I want to touch on concerns the collar bomb incident in Pennsylvania. Now, it would be foolhardy of me to not expect some backlash and negative comments from the media, but unfortunately, some of these remarks have come from behind the badge. I expect those who haven't worn our shoes to be casting stones, but I am a little disappointed by the brothers and sisters who feel there was 'a better way.'

To begin with, the way the situation was handled start to finish, was right on the button. As history has shown us (Columbia, Ireland), very little can ever be done by Patrol to rescue a person with an explosive device attached to them. In a couple of cases, even well-educated Hazardous Device Technicians have lost their lives while trying to defuse people bombs.

It is a foolish, foolish Officer that feels comfortable attempting to render safe an explosive device, no matter how simple the appearance. The trend of microminiaturization of sensors and power supplies applies directly to the bomb builder. Think back to your first wireless phone. (Mine looked like a black brick.) Now, the phone is smaller than my last badge, and can take pictures and tell if the flip is open or closed. Even a low-tech device such as the soda bottle bomb has caused great injury to those that failed to respect its' power.

Therefore, I wholeheartedly suggest anyone thinking that trying to remove a collar bomb, or placing a vest beneath it, or ANY tactic that doesn't involve remotely immobilizing, gathering intel and WAITING FOR THE BOMB SQUAD to rethink their positions. And, to the Officers that did exactly this in PA: job well done.

EOD Killed
My heart goes out to the families of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Techncians that have been killed while defending the citizens in Iraq. And, while Iraq seems to occupy the majority of our thoughts, please take a moment to remember that we have people stationed in harms' way many other places, as well. The bombing of the USS Cole wasn't in an openly hostile port. World Wide EOD Memorial

An exceptionally ambitious virtual memorial to honor fallen EOD/BD/HDT personnel from all nations is being created by a group of Techs. If you have a name you would like memorialized, or have time to help this noteworthy cause, please visit http://my.fragweb.com to see how you can help.

Bomb Tech Humor
This comes from a newsfeed I participate in through the International Association of Bomb Techncians and Investigators. Jim Geibels' BombSqd66 e-newsletter is, bar none, the * best * daily digest of explosives-related data available to Technicians and Investigators. Anyway, Jim relays an incident that happened recently in Thailand. Apparently, a jilted lover left a 'present' for her objet d'amour, which was found and subsequently determined to need the attention of the bomb squad. Good procedure so far. Then, the local police dropped the ball and failed to keep the crowd back that had gathered while waiting to see what the Technicians would do.

Well, based on the Tech's assessment, an explosively-driven tool was selected to neutralize the package. When the tool functioned, it spread the contents of the package in a wide circle, soaking the lookie-loos. Fortunately for the crowd, it wasn't unconsumed explosives, or a WMD agent. Unfortunately for the crowd, it was ". . .putrefied chicken parts and human excrement. . ."

And Finally . . .
Kudos to New York City, who with minimal assistance from the Federal Government, have taken the WMD threat seriously, and embarked on an motivated program to train, equip, and prepare its' Public Safety Personnel. The New York Times reports; ". . ."They are trying to do what Washington is supposed to be doing, but isn't," said a former national security official in the Clinton and the second Bush administrations, Richard A. Clarke."

Until next time,

Shawn


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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