Monday, September 9, 2013

Writers' Police Academy - Day 2 (Part 1) - Bomb Squad, Undercover Cops

What I learned at WPA:

Bomb Squad (featuring Reno, the bomb-sniffing dog)
After we all disembarked from our busses at GTCC, one of the instructors led us across the parking lot to the driving track, to what we believed would be safety instructions and some sort of demonstration like last year (which was awesome).  However, before we reached our destination, the instructor, who had drifted toward the back of the crowd, called for our attention.  A child's backpack was laying on the ground and he wanted to know who it belonged to.

Of course no one claimed it and that resulted in the calling in of a bomb-sniffing dog and his handler. We were sent to watch from a safe distance as Reno (of course I didn't get his handler's name) checked out the suspicious package.  We were told that Reno's signal that he smelled explosive material would be to lay down.  Sure enough, after sniffing around the backpack a bit, Reno hit the pavement.

That brought in the bomb squad, who sent a robot out to pick up the backpack and escort it to the far end of the lot, where it was detonated.
  • The robots are costly, running about $125,000 each.
  • Not all dogs signal by laying down.  Each has its own way of alerting their handler to the presence of explosives.
  • The dogs are taught not to be deterred by the planting of food in suspicious packages. 


This suit costs $125,000

Concealed and Confidential (Instructor: NYPD Detective (ret.) Marco Conelli)
Conelli is a former undercover officer and regaled us with tales from his experiences on the job.
  • Undercover responsibilities: Infiltration, relay accurate information, provide rock-solid testimony. They do not make arrests so as to not blow their cover.
  • Disguises are a big part of the job, along with the personality to match it.
  • Undercover cops refer to their locations as "sets".
  • They use carbon paper to dirty their hands, nails and clothes when making drug buys.  Transactions are close and junkies don't have clean, well-manicured hands.
  • "Try this.  I want to make sure you're okay."  If necessary, undercovers can do whatever is necessary, including ingesting drugs.
  • Real cops only pull  their guns as a last resort.
  • Even a minor drug bust can lead to bigger things. A guy busted for a bag of weed was able to give police the name of a guy who had short an off-duty officer who was working a second job at a check cashing place.
  • Gun jamming is not actually that far-fetched.  "These people aren't really knowledgeable."

No comments: