Specialized Units

Bomb and Arson

Bomb and Arson Unit
9701 Marion Park Drive

The Bomb & Arson Unit evolved from the General Assignment Unit in 1980 consisting of three detectives-Willie Beck, Dan Breece and Cecil O’Rear and virtually no specialized equipment. In 1971 Det. Beck was one of the first civilian Bomb Technicians to attend and graduate from the FBI’s third class of the Hazardous Devices School.

The squad eventually expanded to eight detectives, four who were trained to investigate fires and four who were trained to render safe explosives and conduct post-blast investigations. In 1985, the decision was made to cross-train the detectives in both fire and explosive investigation.

Until 1987 the detectives were still conducting render-safe procedures on explosives without protective gear. It was during that year that they finally received their first bomb suits.

For many years bomb and arson detectives responded to hundreds of calls armed only with their knowledge of explosives and a basic toolbox. Render-safe procedures of suspected bombs consisted mostly of “hand-entry” techniques. The squad eventually improvised their own water canon using a piece of metal pipe, and modified shotgun shells.

Today bomb technicians use expensive state-of-the-art equipment supplied by the FBI, purchased through grants and department funds. 

The primary mission of the Bomb & Arson Squad has not changed, striving to ensure the safety and well-being to the citizens of the greater Kansas City area and surrounding communities and as first-responding public safety personnel in incidents involving explosives.

The squad consists of seven detectives and one sergeant all cross-trained in cause and origin determination for fire scenes, recognition, renders-safe, and post-blast investigations. The squad accomplishes its mission through hundreds of hours of training, and the use of sophisticated equipment.

The Missouri Division of Fire Safety and the National Fire Academy located in Emmitsburg, Maryland provide fire scene investigation training. Technicians receive initial training for recognition, render safe and post-blast investigation of explosives while attending a six-week course at the FBI Hazardous Devices School (HDS) located at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama, Technicians also attend Haz Mat for Bomb Technicians, Basic and Advanced Post Blast Investigations training, Large Vehicle Bomb Countermeasures training and the ATF Advanced Explosives Destruction Techniques Course. They also are required to recertify at HDS every three years. Training for bomb and arson technicians is ongoing as new trends, advanced techniques and explosives are discovered and evaluated.