Hiawassee, GA – Citizen Law Enforcement Academy (CLEA) alumni and current participants in the 8-week CLEA VII course gathered at Towns County Beach on Tuesday afternoon, September 5, for a special presentation featuring Bomb Disposal Unit #601, courtesy of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and Towns County Sheriff’s Office.
After enjoying conversation and a cookout under the park’s pavilion, Sheriff Chris Clinton introduced GBI Special Agent Ryan Hilton to the sizable turnout of attendees.
Special Agent Hilton, from the Region 8 field office in Cleveland, began by explaining the purpose of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. “We’re what’s called a requester agency,” the Special Agent told the group, “We can be requested by the Governor, Judges, District Attorney, Sheriff, or Chief of Police to assist in criminal investigations.”
Special Agent Hilton went on to explain the GBI often investigates homicides, public corruption, crimes against the elderly, allegations of excessive use of force by law enforcement officers and other incidents throughout the state.
Special Agent Hilton led the group to the Bomb Disposal truck, one of eleven within the state of Georgia, and described the bomb suit used by bomb technicians while engaging an explosive device. Weighing 84 pounds and similar to those worn by firefighters, the suit provides substantial thermal and overpressure protection. It also lessens the impact of injury in the event an explosive device detonates.
The agent described the functions and capabilities of the small, but mighty 426 pound robot used to disarm explosives. Valued at a quarter of a million dollars, it is equipped with cameras, a speaker, an electronic grip, and dual barrels that are similar in strength to a 12 gauge shotgun and proficient enough to shoot the battery from a device without disturbing the attached explosive.
“The most common call the Bomb Unit receives is suspicious packages and found ordnance,” Special Agent Hilton said. Found ordnance consist of commercial explosives and war remnants, a familiar find in areas such as Savannah where battles once took place.
The agent demonstrated the operation of the robot for the CLEA class before taking several questions from the interested audience.
CLEA VII commencement is scheduled for September 26 at the Towns County Courthouse.