MCLENNAN COUNTY (June 24, 2013)--With the help of the internet, it’s not surprising that homemade explosive devices are becoming more common.
That being said, law enforcement agencies like the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office aren't taking any chances.
“The use of homemade explosives is rising,” McLennan County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Technician Michael Graham said.
“We’re seeing them more and more.”
In December of 2012, one of the only two bomb technicians within the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office retired.
According to the FBI, a law enforcement agency must have a team of two bomb technicians to be clarified as a ‘bomb squad’.
With this departure, it not only put the squad roster in a bind but also the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office.
The bomb squad within the sheriff’s office is the only one between Dallas and Austin.
The squad doesn’t respond to incidents within McLennan County but also in Hill County, Bosque County, Freestone County, Limestone County, Falls County, and Coryell County.
With the squad down to just one bomb technician, any additional help would have to be dispatched hours away from Dallas or Austin.
Fort Hood has their own bomb squad, but their primary focus is on devices containing military ordinances.
"We're the ones who go and do it,” Graham said.
"It's a long time to wait for someone to come from Dallas or Austin when you have a timed event that could go off before someone gets there."
Graham and Hunter Herring, both deputies within the sheriff’s office, volunteered to be on the squad.
Nearly seven weeks ago, they were sent to the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School in Huntsville, Alabama.
They returned last Friday and are now certified Bomb Technicians. Both are trained to diffuse anything from a pipe bomb, to something more complex.
"Biological, chemical, nuclear weapon type devices, large vehicle bombs, and suspicious packages are the kinds of things that are our specialty,” Graham said.
Graham says the bomb squad has only been dispatched a few times this year.
The squad now has three certified Bomb Technicians. Graham says as the use of homemade explosives rises, strength in numbers and being prepared for anything is what counts.
"At a moment’s notice, we can get our gear together, respond, and do what we need to do," Graham said.