CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Sending the Cedar Rapids Bomb Squad to investigate suspicious items and packages isn’t cheap.
City officials estimate it costs the police department thousands of dollars each time the team of officers and firefighters is dispatched.
“It can be upward of $20,000 by the time you factor in personnel costs and the cost of some of the equipment,” said Greg Buelow, public safety communications coordinator for the city.
Twenty grand was the estimated price tag for the incident at the Kohl’s on Collins Road Northeast, May 8th. The bomb squad cleared the store, roped off the parking lot, and rendered the package “safe” by blowing it up.
It didn’t turn out to be harmful, which is often the case. In similar calls this month, a ticking package at the FedEx near Lindale Mall was found to be a clock. At a Casey’s General Store on 33rd Ave Southeast, another suspicious package was determined to be a suitcase full of clothes.
Police Chief Wayne Jerman said despite the cost, the incidents were worth investigating.
“You have to look at what would happen if we didn’t take the proper precautions. The fact that there is an expense involved, that’s part of public safety,” Jerman said.
So far this year, the bomb squad has been dispatched to investigate eight suspicious objects or packages. That’s the same number for the entire year, last year. In 2012, the squad handled 14 of those calls.
Buelow said the squad isn’t sent out at the drop of a hat. The group has a process they follow for dealing reports of suspicious items.
“Obviously if someone sees a suspicious object or package they notify the police department,” Buelow said. “Then all the front line officers and the commanders have training, and if they deem that it takes a specialty team like the bomb squad to deal with it, then they are deployed to the scene.”
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