The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives provided free training for law enforcement and firefighters this week in Tahlequah.
The training took place in an open field next to the Cherokee County Detention Center. People who live nearby may have heard some explosions because the ATF was blowing up things like cars and mailboxes.
A group of 43 men and women from Tulsa, Sapulpa, Norman and as far away as Fort Worth learned the skills it takes to figure out how bombs go off and learn who made the bomb.
“It’s their job to bring order to chaos,” ATF Senior Special Agent Ashley Stephens said.
He said the smallest details in the debris can make a big difference in finding the answers.
“They’ve gotta go process the vehicle and tell us what the device was, how it functioned, what the explosive was in it, and what leads they would have to help catch who made it,” Stephens said.
“Gathering the evidence is gonna be crucial, so we want to make sure that we do it properly,” Tulsa Fire Investigator Steve Rhodes said.
This was Rhodes first time going through the training. He’s been an investigator with the Tulsa Fire Department for almost three years and worked at the department for 24 years.
“Anytime you can go through training like this, it’s invaluable,” Rhodes said.
Stephens said the Post Blast Investigation Techniques class is offered a couple of times a year around the country, at no cost to the investigators participating.
“We were lucky enough to bring it here in Oklahoma this year. People have been requesting it,” Stephens said.
Law enforcement from across Oklahoma and Texas are here this week, working hard to keep people safe in the towns they serve. Stephens said while the group is learning, they’re also having fun.
“Oh absolutely. Anytime you get to blow up something out here in a controlled environment, we do enjoy it,” Stephens said.
The training will wrap up on Friday.