Training culminates in explosion

Published 10:10 pm Thursday, June 21, 2012

Seven pounds of homemade explosives were used Wednesday to blow up a school bus as part of a three-day training exercise hosted by American K9 Interdiction and Tripwire Operations Group. About 60 members of local, state and federal agencies participated in the course on how to make and detect the making of homemade explosives.

By Dale Liesch

The Tidewater News

SMITHFIELD—Franklin Police Lt. Kenny Barham was surprised that seven pounds of homemade explosives could destroy a school bus.


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“You see a lot of stuff on TV, but until you get your hands on it, it makes a difference,” Barham said. “Learning the aspects of how to make explosives is remarkable. It’s amazing to see how it can be cheaply made from materials you can find at the grocery store.”

Barham was one of 60 emergency personnel from local, state and federal agencies to participate in a three-day training on homemade explosives organized by American K-9 Interdiction of Walters and Tripwire Operations Group.

The exercise involved training how to detect and make homemade explosives using household materials. Those same bombs were used to blow up the bus Wednesday at Isle of Wight Material near Smithfield.

The training is beneficial because insurgents have switched from more traditional explosives, like dynamite, to simpler improvised explosives, said Eric Favetta, a former military professional turned American K-9 dog trainer.

“Had I had this training before I deployed, it would’ve opened my eyes,” Favetta said.

He learned what to look for to find bomb-making factories. For instance, the making of aluminum-based explosives can leave behind a substance that looks like smeared paint.

Ryan Morris, owner of Tripwire, said training domestic emergency workers about these explosives is important.

“It’s not a question of if it’s going to happen, it’s a question of when,” Morris said.

Morris said this was the first local class, but they hope to continue to have them quarterly.

Franklin Police Chief Phil Hardison and Deputy Robert Porti also attended.

“They told me what they’ve been doing, and I came to see the effects,” Porti said.

Hardison said the department would continue to send officers to the training if it’s held locally.

“The benefit and importance of this is a unique learning opportunity for us to get a higher understanding of improvised explosive devices,” he said.