The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad was formed in 1998 as a strategic resource in the greater Kanawha Valley for the disposal of improvised explosive devices (IED’s), commercial explosives, military ordnance, fireworks, and ammunition. They also provide direct and general support to tactical (SWAT) operations, perform protective bomb sweeps for visiting dignitaries and special events, conduct enhanced security details at critical infrastructure sites, assist with local, state, and federal agency emergency planning, and provide training programs on IED countermeasures for both government and commercial entities. The unit is a regional resource and has responded to eight other counties in West Virginia and the State of Kentucky through mutual aid requests.
The unit has received continuous accreditation since 1998 from the National Bomb Squad Commander’s Advisory Board and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The unit consists of eight FBI certified Hazardous Devices Technicians (aka bomb techs) and two explosives detection canine teams. All hazardous devices technicians must first complete a hazardous materials technician course and then the six week FBI Hazardous Devices School program at Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. The FBI Hazardous Devices School is a 50 million dollar complex containing realistic training “villages” where students will run simulated bomb squad missions on a regular basis during the class. Following the initial, basic technician training, the unit members then attend advanced training courses in post-blast investigation, advanced explosives destructive techniques, SWAT, explosive breaching, and for some, diving. The unit trains a minimum of one day each month to maintain their readiness.
The hardest working members of the unit are the explosive detection canine teams. These two teams consisting of the canine and handler will undergo ten weeks of initial canine training and then regular advanced training each month. They perform all of the protective sweeps and perform regular patrols at critical infrastructure sites, schools, and government buildings. The canine teams are used almost every week of the year as a prevention measure to ensure public safety and are a necessary asset to the overall mission of the Bomb Squad.