Credit (Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)
For those reading from outside of the St. Louis area, county police headquarters is about 8 miles from city police headquarters. Each jurisdiction has always had separate Bomb & Arson functions. We have identical equipment; most of it purchased since September 11, 2001 with federal funds. Everything related to this unit is expensive. One example is the bomb containment vessel, which costs more than $600,000. We each have one. We have bomb robots and bomb suits. So does the city. Someday, we will have to replace all of it. It’s pretty clear that federal money won’t be available in the future.Training for these specialized detectives is expensive. Our training and certifications are identical to theirs. We have four detectives and a sergeant and the city has four detectives and a sergeant. Each department spends tens of thousands of dollars in overtime covering the time periods when no detective is on-duty. With a combined unit, Bomb & Arson detectives will coordinate their schedules to cover more of the day with on-duty personnel, saving each agency overtime dollars.
If you find a pipe bomb in your mailbox, do you care what the police patch says on the responding detective’s shoulder? The agreement sounds like a no-brainer right? I thought so; but that was my mistake. I guess what I forgot to do was to inject politics and fear into my decision. Sorry about that.