South Bend Police Department Bomb Squad is a regional unit, which is on call to
help in cases of a suspected bomb or similar device. The
unit is on call 24 hours a day covering an area comprised of seven counties in
the area, but can respod to calls within most of the northern third of the state,
with response to areas of southwest Michigan if needed. Comprised of six members,
the unit features highly specialized training and state of the art equipment.
This includes a new $76,000 bomb squad truck, acquired late in 2005. SBPD was able to acquire the unit through a Department of Homeland Security grant. Bomb squad members helped to design the truck so that it has everything the unit requires in an emergency situation.
The truck features a built in generator, a diesel generator that runs off the fuel tank, and it also houses all equipment and protective gear needed for a response. It also will tow the bomb squad trailer. In March 2006, the squad will get a state-of-the-art containment vehicle, which will also be purchased with Homeland Security money.
2005 the SBPD Bomb Squad acquired a $150,000 robot, which can perform a wide variety
of tasks related to home security. The Remotek Andros has nerves of steel because
it is made of steel.
Bomb Squad officers are made safer through this technology. “It can basically almost do anything a man can do,” said Bomb Squad Commander, Corporal Dave Gnoth. ”And, a bomb technician would not have to be in harm's way.” That benefit alone has made the bomb squad’s job a little less dangerous. “What we used to do is put on an 85-pound bomb suit, go down range, and observe the device,” said Gnoth. “If by some chance the device would blow up, we'd blow up.”
The robot is capable of many uses and can handle a wide range of terrain. Amongst things the robot can do: climb a curb, climb stairs, open doors, and it also lower enough to search the underside of a vehicle. SWAT callouts are also a possibility, due to the capability of mounting a shotgun or similar weapon, which could fire less-lethal projectiles or tear gas, for example.In a Haz-Mat situation, sensors could be attached to measure gas, radiation, or biological threats and sending information safely back to the operator's screen.