Spartanburg Co. bomb techs use robots to detonate devices - FOX Carolina 21

Spartanburg Co. bomb techs use robots to detonate devices

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Chucky, Spartanburg County's bomb squad's robot. (Apr. 19, 2013/FOX Carolina) Chucky, Spartanburg County's bomb squad's robot. (Apr. 19, 2013/FOX Carolina)

The blast blew out nearby store windows, brought a crowd of people to their knees and rocked the Boston community Monday.

However, by Friday FBI agents knew the suspects' names behind the Boston Marathon bombings. They also knew explosives were part of their terror techniques.

"We're constantly looking at our policies, our procedures and our protocols to make sure that they're tight," Lt. Ashley Harris said.

Harris is one of four bomb technicians with the Spartanburg County Sheriff's Office.

"In the event we have an explosive device we want to disrupt it, open it up," Harris said.

And that's where his partner Chucky comes in. He, or it, is a robot with an impressive extension and arms that shoot if they need to.

"There's multiple cameras on the robot, so we can see everything it sees from different angles," Harris said.

He said all bomb technicians in the country train at the same school, so what bomb techs are implementing in Boston are the same skills bomb techs use in the Upstate. One common procedure all techs try to implement is safety.

"Evacuation distances are something we look at - we look at the size of the explosive," Harris said.

And in Spartanburg County, Chucky the robot usually scopes out the situation first under the command of Harris. He demonstrated how the robot is used by controlling it from a distance and directing it to pick up a bag.

"And we can actually be over a mile away using radio signals to drive the robot," Harris said.

For example, if the bag the robot picked up was an explosive it would then be put in what's called a containment vessel. The vessel is then driven away and detonated. It's the same kind of controlled detonation investigators conducted outside of a Boston neighborhood Friday afternoon.

"With a controlled detonation, we're in control when that device goes off - not the bad guys," Harris said.

The bomb technicians operate two robots and used Chucky a couple of months ago in the Boiling Springs area to disrupt a device. Technicians said they often review incidents like the one in Boston to get tips or to learn how to improve their own techniques.

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