No bomb squads
|Today is the fifth anniversary of 9/11 and I was reading through today's Matier and Ross column and pretty surprised by this item:|
Rent-a-bomb squad: In this post-Sept. 11 world of homeland security dollars, it may come as a bit of a surprise that not every county even has a bomb squad.
Take Marin County, for instance.
A few days ago, a suspicious package was found in a parking lot of a Mill Valley shopping center just as classes were letting out across the street at Tamalpais High School.
But Marin doesn't have a bomb squad, so the tiny Mill Valley police force put out an emergency call to the military explosives unit at Moffett Field down on the Peninsula.
Moffett's crack crew said that with midafternoon traffic, it couldn't get to the mysterious package for 2 1/2 hours.
"That was not going to work,'' said Mill Valley police Detective Sgt. Dean Loutas, who had been forced to close streets around the shopping center and had a big traffic jam and scores of cranky motorists on his hands.
As it turns out, UC Berkeley's Police Department has a bomb unit, and the campus cops monitor police scanners around the Bay Area. By time Mill Valley police contacted them, the bomb squad was already en route.
Nonetheless, it was late in the afternoon before the package, which turned out to be harmless, was destroyed and traffic got back to normal.
As for why Marin doesn't have its own squad?
"I don't think many counties do have them," Undersheriff Dennis Finnegan said. "It's extremely expensive ... and the training is unbelievable.''
So, instead, they make the call to Berkeley -- or Moffett Field -- as the potential bombs tick away.