The history of bomb squads in the U.S. dates back to World War II in the early 1940s. Early bomb squads had the responsibility of disarming unexploded military ordnance on the battlefields. In 1992, the Lodi Police Department developed the Bomb/Arson Unit to handle explosive devices and suspicious items.
The Bomb Unit deals with live explosives such as dynamite, modified hand grenades and improvised pipe bombs. They also investigate and handle suspicious devices and packages.
Members of the Lodi Police Bomb Unit attend school in Huntsville, Ala. on the U.S. Army base Redstone Arsenal. This joint Army-FBI training facility is called the Hazardous Devices School (HDS) and lasts six weeks. The training must be successfully completed before the student may graduate and earn the title of Bomb Technician.
The Basic HDS course includes: robotics; booby traps; commercial, improvised and military explosives; x-ray use and interpretation; electronics; chemical and biological weapons; hazardous materials; and personal protective equipment. This training is intense, and a passing grade is required on all subjects. If a student fails to meet standards, they are sent home. Bomb technicians are required to attend recertification classes in Alabama every three years to maintain their accreditation.
The Lodi PD Bomb Unit is also associated with the San Joaquin Metro Bomb Squad. The Metro Squad consists of officers from Lodi PD, the San Joaquin Sheriff's Dept., Stockton PD and Manteca PD. All participating bomb technicians have attended the same HDS training and work together on emergency calls involving explosive ordinances.
After each bomb technician has completed the Basic HDS, they are allowed to wear a unique badge known as the EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) "crab." This qualification badge has been adapted by civilian bomb squads from their military counterparts. Each part of the "crab" has a significant meaning:
- The wreath is symbolic of the achievements and laurels gained in minimizing incidents through the ingenuity and devotion to duty of its members. It is in memory of those EOD members who gave their lives while performing EOD duties.
- The bomb is copied from the design of the WWII Bomb Disposal badge, and represents the historic and major objective of the EOD mission: the unexploded bomb. The three fins represent the major areas of nuclear, conventional and chemical/biological interest.
- Lightning bolts symbolize the potential destructive power of the bomb and the courage and professionalism of EOD personnel.
- The shield represents the EOD mission - to prevent a detonation and protect the surrounding area and property.
Bomb squad members are also part of the Fire Investigation Unit. Along with trained members of the Lodi Fire Dept., the bomb technicians jointly investigate fires with major property damage or when a death is involved. This cooperative venture has been very successful in the investigation and prosecution of several subjects responsible for setting fires within the city of Lodi.
There are several mottos associated with EOD units, but the original motto still has the most meaning: "Initial success or total failure." The EOD team t-shirts we wear have another saying: "If you see me running, try to keep up."
Sergeant Dale Miller has been a member of the Lodi EOD Team since 1992.
Questions, comments or advice for Behind the Badge can be e-mailed to email@example.com, mailed to Jeanie Biskup, Lodi Police Department, 215 West Elm Street, Lodi, CA 95240, phone 333-6864.