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New tech will help Dothan's bomb squad detect explosives quicker, easier

New tech will help Dothan's bomb squad detect explosives quicker, easier

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Dothan Bomb squad

The Dothan Police Department bomb squad van rolls into a checkpoint below the home where school bus shooter Jimmy Lee Dykes had barricaded himself in a bunker with a 5-year-old boy as a hostage in February 2013.

Dothan’s bomb squad will soon be outfitted with new tech that will help detect explosive devices or chemicals quicker and easier.

A portable x-ray machine the size of an iPad can be placed next to an object to scan what’s inside and a high-tech chemical identifier can be placed nearby to detect certain odors associated with harmful or explosive chemicals.

“They can be used in combination to tell with relative surety whether the bomb team can approach it,” Dothan Police Chief Will Benny said. “It helps with the overall mission of the bomb team.”

He said the new devices help with the time and expenses related to the current practice of assuming an object contains an explosive device or chemical, placing it in a receptacle, and safely disposing of it.

Dothan’s bomb squad is the regional response unit for Region B of Alabama Homeland Security, meaning it is responsible for responding to reports of possible explosives in 10 southeastern Alabama counties.

The new equipment was paid for by an $119,538 grant from the Homeland Security Grant Program administered by the Dothan-Houston County Emergency Management Association. It also paid for a new bomb suit.

“We appreciate the working relationship we have with EMA and homeland security to keep our officers and community safe,” Benny said.

Purchases were approved at a recent Dothan City Commission meeting, along with 10 new speed radars for police cars at a cost of $38,450.

Sable Riley is a Dothan Eagle staff writer and can be reached at sriley@dothaneagle.com or 334.712.7915. Support her work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.

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