Explosives training given at DHEC

Published 12:11 am Saturday, February 20, 2010

Law enforcement officials from around the region took part in a two-day seminar dealing with explosives. The Demopolis Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Alabama hosted the seminar, with members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms experts serving as instructors.

“This is an effort to get some of this training to some of the state and local agencies in this area,” said Tommy Loftis, the Law Enforcemenet Coordinating Committee coordinator with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

“In today’s budget, when everybody’s budget has been cut, one of the first things that generally gets cut first in state and local budgets is training, where they don’t have money to travel, and they don’t have the money to pay speakers to come in and do these kinds of training sessions. That’s where the U.S. Attorney’s Office steps in. We have the budget, and we do this all over the district.”

Email newsletter signup

About 35 officers came to the Demopolis Higher Education Center on Wednesday and Thursday to take part in the training. Officers came from Tuscaloosa, Linden, Greensboro and other parts of west central Alabama.

“The training covers some of the explosives that first responders would come upon, like a pipe bomb or if somebody blew up a mailbox,” Loftis said. “The gist of the training is to show these officers how damaging some of these devices that they come across can be.

“It’s eye-opening, because if you don’t have the training, you would think, ‘I can go down there and pick that up and put it in my car and take it away from here,’ and that’s not a good idea. Not saying the police officers would do that, but if you don’t have the training, you don’t know.”

“This is valuable training, preparing us for something we might come up on in the future,” said Marengo County Deputy Donald Lewis.

On Thursday, officers got a chance to see the different ways that explosives react in different situations. Officers studied scatter patterns, the way some explosives leave craters and how explosives placed inside of other objects blast through them.

Instructors set up seven explosions on the DHEC campus behind the main building and set them off, with explosives ranging from pipe bombs to gasoline explosions.

“We want to be aware of what to look for in the future if we have (an explosion),” said DPD chief Tommie Reese. “Hopefully, we’ll never have one. This gives these officers a feel for what’s going on.”