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Explosions serve as instructional tool
by Jebb Johnston
Sep 19, 2013 | 65 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A series of explosions rocked the Tuscumbia Wildlife Management Area late Wednesday afternoon as experts blew up a series of scrapped vehicles with the push of a button.

The charred remains served as an instructional tool to help officers and fire officials learn about investigating explosive scenes. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Nashville Field Division, working with other agencies, set off the explosions.

The Northeast Mississippi Law Enforcement Training Center hosted training several days this week with the ATF to give law enforcement and fire investigators pointers on advanced explosives investigations — particularly those involving unconventional explosives incidents and homemade explosives.

Tuesday included a basic demonstration of a variety of explosives to help officers understand that such incidents are “not like everything they see on TV,” said ATF Special Agent Michael Knight. “If you watch a bombing in Iraq, you see the same bombing over and over again. But what they’ll see today and throughout the week is because we’re in a field and open air, some explosives react differently.”

In addition to learning how to investigate the scenes safely and concisely, officers learned the cues that will help them recognize homemade explosives.

“In this day and age of homemade explosives, they are not marked ‘danger’ ... They have to be able to recognize those precursors,” said Knight.

The ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating explosive incidents.

“Crimes involving explosives pose a great danger to the public and the law enforcement officers who encounter them, making training for explosives incidents vitally important,” said Jeff Fulton, special agent in charge of the ATF Nashville Field Division. “I am proud that ATF is able to provide an opportunity for local investigators to obtain a higher level of expertise.”

The course instructors are ATF special agent certified explosives specialists, bomb technicians from the Jackson (Tenn.) Police Department, Shelby County Sheriff’s Department and the Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office. Representatives of the Milan Army Ammunition Plant provided instruction on military ordnance.

The training was provided to 32 participants at no charge. Outside of this setting, it would likely cost at least $100 per day per student, said Bowen Johnson, director of the training center, which provides in-service training in a wide range of advanced topics for law enforcement agencies. Upcoming sessions include topics such as an active shooter scenario and sexual assault crimes.

During its first four years, the training center will have reached more than 5,110 officers from 401 agencies in 10 states. Formed in 2009, it is a cooperative venture involving the Corinth Police Department, Alcorn County Sheriff’s Department, Farmington Police Department, Northeast Mississippi Community College and Blue Mountain College. It is housed at the Northeast at Corinth campus.
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