The Bomb Squad: A closer look at EPD’s specialized unit

The Bomb Squad: A closer look at EPD’s specialized unit
Published: May. 27, 2023 at 10:35 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - The Evansville Police Department’s Bomb Squad features four bomb technicians and one K-9 officer.

For those officers, the bomb squad isn’t their full-time job, but when a threat comes up, they drop everything to take care of the situation.

“You don’t really have a lot of time to sit down and think about what could go wrong,” said Bomb Technician Josey Lewis. “You just have to go out there and revert back to the training.”

The bomb squad is a unit often portrayed in crime movies and tv shows. The real-life version is way more than what you see on the screen.

“There’s so many different things that people can use now to implement a device that before wasn’t even possible,” said Bomb Technician Caleb Wiseman.

The Evansville Police Department’s Hazardous Devices Unit, better known as the ‘bomb squad,’ serves 12 southern Indiana counties.

The five officers tasked with some serious threats go through a lot of training and are always keeping up with the latest developments.

“There’s so many different things that you need to know to do this job,” Wiseman said.

As high pressure as it may be, bomb tech Josey Louis says it’s a unique opportunity that breaks up any routine.

“It’s kind of a break in dealing with everything else that’s going on in the world,” Lewis said.

But as technological advances help the officers, those same advances can hurt them as well.

“There’s all kinds of crazy stuff out there now that wasn’t in existence maybe 30, 40 years ago,” Wiseman added.

Recent incidents in Evansville include the suspicious package at the federal building, or the standoff on Blackford Avenue in April.

“Each situation is different every time, so there’s not going to be one that’s exactly the same,” Lewis said.

Both situations yielded no real threat, but both were treated as if they were.

“It’s a bomb until we say it’s not a bomb,” Wiseman said. “So until we can prove that it’s not, that’s how we’re going to treat it every single time.”

Wiseman says worrying about what could happen in the moment can pull focus away from the job at hand: evaluating and ending the active threat.

“If you’re so worried about that, you’re not going to be able to do the job, and do the job effectively,” Wiseman said.

Both technicians say their training keeps them ready for evolving situations. Re-certifications keep their skills up to date, and their research on their own keeps them in touch with different kinds of technology being used as a threat.

“You just have to put that stuff in the back of your mind, go in and do it,” Wiseman said. “You’re trained to do the job, just follow your training.”

The squad says the job isn’t possible without the help of the Evansville Police Foundation, who helps fund newer technology which better prepares them to evaluate threats.

As always, they say, if you see something suspicious, it’s better to call and have them check it out, instead of ignoring a possible threat that could face the community at large.