Post-blast Forensics
FBI explosives experts and the 482nd Explosive Ordinance Disposal team provided demonstrations of everything from homemade fire starters to high explosives for South Florida crime scene investigators Nov.8 and 9 here at Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo/Dan Galindo)
Homestead hosts FBI post-blast forensics training

by Dan Galindo
482nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/2/2006 - HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. -- Many of us may have heard the criticism of the popular television series CSI. There are no magic machines or tests to give immediate answers to crimes the way producers depict events on the show. In reality, it takes more than fancy special effects.

Recently, the 482nd Civil Engineering Squadron Explosive Ordinance Disposal team provided the venue for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to teach South Florida law enforcement just what it takes to search for answers for a particular kind of crime - bombings.

About 30 crime scene investigators from the Broward Sherriff's Office, Miami-Dade County and the City of Miami converged on the EOD range of Homestead Air Reserve Base, Fla. Nov. 8 for two days of post-blast forensics training.

While the FBI would take the lead in bombing cases, local law enforcement teams would arrive first to contain the scene and begin collecting evidence.

"Should a blast happen, everyone will have the same training so we can work together as a team," said Special Agent Scott Hahn of the Miami FBI Field Office. "This is proactive training we do from coast to coast."

Many of the local CSI's have post-blast education under their belts already, but the FBI training will allow everyone to collaborate on future investigations.

"The team training was the most useful, in the sense that the local departments are on the same page if we all need to work together on a large scale event," said Hector Infante, a City of Miami Police Department crime scene investigator with more than 20 years of experience.

The hands-on portion of the FBI Post-Blast Investigator Course gave students the chance to put into practice what they learned in the classroom to contain, investigate and process a bomb scene.

"Documentation, documentation and some more documentation," Infante said. "We learned the grid approach to collecting evidence and how to record everything the FBI way."

It wasn't all paperwork, though. Before students could begin putting their lessons into practice, FBI agents and explosive experts demonstrated the power of both military and homemade devices.

From the smallest blasting cap to several pounds of dynamite, students learned just how strong - and loud - the materials can be.

They also learned how destructive they are. As investigators processing a post-blast scene, it's their job to pick up the pieces and sort it all out.

In much the same way that archaeologists sift mounds of dirt, the investigators had to find clues of what is usually left after an explosion - hundreds of thousands of tiny pieces.

Short of any magic machines to guide students to the answers, Infante explained they learned how determining clues such as velocity through some old-fashioned science and math can lead investigators in the right direction.