Nov 17, 2016 12:58 PM
“The only limitation to both IED construction as well as disguising it is the bomber’s imagination.” –Sgt. Jeffrey Dade, New Hampshire State Police Bomb Squad.
That’s is Sergeant Jeffrey Dade, Commander of the New Hampshire State Police Bomb Squad. It’s the unit you see on TV news when someone calls 911 about a suspicious package or a bomb threat. What you may not know is how they handle those calls and what else they do to keep people safe in New Hampshire.
It’s race day at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Local, state and federal first responders, all here to protect the thousands of fans in the stands and campgrounds.
“This is actually the largest sporting venue in New England that’s all in one spot. The only sporting event that’s larger would be the Boston Marathon,” says Dade.
As we’ve learned from the Boston Marathon bombings, detecting potential threats among the huge crowds is challenging.
“There is no place that is safe from those kinds of threats,” says Dade.
They can’t share specifics of their security strategy, but he says constant patrols of the venue are critical.
“We’re looking for weapons of mass destruction. We’re looking for chemical weapons. We’re looking for biological weapons, radiological and nuclear.”
Dade gives us a tour of the facility to illustrate some of the challenges of protecting a venue this widespread.
“These parking lots you’re looking at? They just keep going, there are tons of them,” says Dade.
On this day, the Bomb Squad is called to inspect several suspicious packages—including this suitcase chained to a fence.
All of the threats are quickly and quietly cleared, with only a couple of visitors spotting the troopers at work.
“Here’s what you need to know,” Dade says to a couple watching from a few feet away. “You’re probably in the safest place in New Hampshire right now.” The woman—who doesn’t want to be identified—replies, “I hope so. I didn’t even want to come today because I’m scared!”
“Everything that can be done is being done,” says Dade. As the brief conversation concludes, the woman smiles and says, “Thanks for telling me that.”
Dade often interacts with the public because he wants people to understand what the Bomb Squad really does—and why. He gives us an up close look at how they handle a call for a possible bomb, and says it’s nothing like what you see on the big screen.
“We can do all of that – that’s Hollywood – but if something goes wrong, bye-bye bomb tech.”
Not wanting to arm the criminals, Dade can’t reveal too much. But he says, “We’re not actually blowing things up, for starters. That might be what it looks like...”
However, he says they use special energetic tools to neutralize the explosive without actually destroying what’s inside.
“I don’t want it go off and lose evidence” says Dade. “We want to investigate crimes, and make arrests and prosecute folks that put these things out to hurt people and disturb our society.”
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