Explosives are a weapon of choice for terrorists. Aside from those sporadic acts officers here in Central Texas are responding to hundreds of calls for dangerous materials.
This week in Crimewatch FOX 7's Noelle Newton shows how the APD Bomb Squad is arming officers across the state with their expert knowledge to keep us safe
Explosives are all around us. If you don't know what you're looking for you would never know it existed. Immense power comes in very small packages.
“We have blasters. We have a military base nearby. We have a lot of this stuff in the area,” said Officer Jeff Joseph. "I see exactly how dangerous this stuff can be."
Members of the Austin Police Bomb Squad are sharing their knowledge with patrol officers who would first respond should something suspicious be called in.
"It's one thing to find a hand grenade. Everyone knows that a hand grenade is dangerous,” said Joseph. "What I wanted to help the people who are in here draw attention to is if they get called to a suspicious package and a box like this is sitting there and it's in an area where it should not be, it's unknown to the people who are there, it has some strange writing on it that someone wrote on there and then identifying features that are not found on a metal box like this wire poking out. That could be nothing. That could be an identifying feature of an IED. "
Officer Jeff Joseph learned these tell-tale signs by attending a homeland defense class in New Mexico. Upon completion of the course he saw the world differently.
He and other bomb squad officers found the material so important they went through a special training to host a local class for whoever wanted to attend.
During the past year they have trained 500 officers including TSA agents.
"I get a lot of feedback as to 'oh, yeah, that opened my eyes. I pay more attention when I walk around now,’” said Joseph.
The most eye-opening part of the training is when officers ignite the items shown in the classroom.
"They're very devastating and what we need to understand is we are in a nice open field, but if you contain that in a small area like a classroom the amount of carnage it can do is quite immense,” said Magnolia Police Chief Jim Napolitano.
Chief Jim Napolitano drove up from his department in Magnolia, north of Houston to attend.
"It's actually given me the idea that I need to get as many of my officers from my small department to come to a class like this,” said Napolitano.
"The danger is real because it's present. We find devices. We find explosives. We find suspicious packages that wind up being IEDs,” said Joseph.
Officer Joseph says his unit has responded to 300 calls so far this year.
He plans to continue teaching the class until no one else shows up.