DELAWARE STATE POLICE EXPLOSIVE ORDNANCE DISPOSAL UNIT
Sergeant Christopher R. Ennis
The Delaware State Police Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Team is the longest serving bomb squad in the State of Delaware. Its eleven members are strategically based throughout the state to cover the 1,954 square miles within our borders. With Delaware being the 6th most densely populated state in the nation and the base of over 50% of the U.S. publicly traded corporations, maintaining a strategic response plan is crucial.
In 2011, the DSP-EOD Team saw a decline in activations from 162 in 2010 to 145 in 2011. We believe that this was a direct result of our proactive approach to educate first responders and private corporations on effectively identifying and differentiating between a suspicious package and an unattended one before activating the team.
In 2011, the size of the team grew by one technician. With the operational tempo rivaling most major metropolitan full time units, a small increase in the number of certified technicians was needed. All members of the team, except for the officer in charge, are assigned in an "on call" status with each member serving the division in other full-time duty assignments. All team members must maintain certification as Hazardous Material Technicians as well as their Hazardous Devices Technician Certification. Five team members have also received certification as Explosive Breachers. Maintaining expert proficiency in all aspects of their profession on a part time basis is a testament of their dedication and commitment.
In 2011, team members attended specialized training encompassing numerous topics such as homemade explosives, large vehicle bomb countermeasures, and advanced electronics. The EOD Team took delivery of a PackBot 510 Responder Robot in 2011. The smaller, man portable robot will allow the team to deploy a robotically operated vehicle into locations that were only accessible by a technician in a bomb suit one year ago. These new robots will provide video surveillance, render safe capability and maneuverability in areas such as cargo ships, commuter planes, mass transit buses and trains.
Of the 145 calls for service in 2011, approximately one quarter of the activations resulted in the recovery of live explosives, fireworks, military ordnance and ammunition. Education, Community Awareness training and providing technical assistance, account for the majority of the remaining calls with suspicious packages and IED’s accounting for the smallest percentage but most volatile of all calls.
Since 9/11, the mission for the public safety bomb technician has evolved immensely. The sophisticated equipment and special skills that the team possesses has applications well beyond the traditional bomb disposal role. From X-raying items suspected in drug trafficking or providing an explosive entry into a fortified structure to providing two way communication and video surveillance to suspects barricaded in a dwelling, the bomb technician’s role is constantly evolving.
The Delaware State Police EOD Team has shown adaptability and perseverance by growing with this continuously evolving field and threats against our way of life. Today’s threats are more alarming than ever before due to the ingenuity of our adversaries and easy access to explosive components worldwide. In fact, DSP has been recognized as being a leader in the industry by using techniques outside of the traditional EOD paradigm. While continuing to utilize specialized equipment and attending advanced training, our EOD Team will remain prepared to face threats against our communities and critical infrastructure facilities on a moments notice. Our motto of "Initial Success… Or Total Failure" is a constant reminder to our technicians of the perilous challenges we must successfully conquer with each and every mission. Failure is not an option.
- Information obtained from 2011 DSP Annual Report -