It is not cost-effective for every police department to have its own bomb squad, according to police, especially considering there are already three bomb squads within a short drive from Texarkana.
The El Dorado, Ark., bomb squad responded Monday to Texarkana, Ark., when a suspicious object was found in the bushes on the east side of the Bi-State Justice Building. The object was retrieved using the bomb squad's automated robot and taken back to El Dorado, where investigators learned it was not made of hazardous materials.
El Dorado has a memorandum of understanding with other areas, meaning it is required to send out its bomb squad when needed, said Texarkana, Ark., Police Capt. Bobby Jordan.
"Basically a needs assessment was conducted many years ago and it was determined that there would be six bomb squad units in the state. The state police have one and there are five others. They are part of a task force named the "Render Safe Task Force," Jordan said. "The El Dorado task force is basically responsible for all call outs south of Fordyce, Ark. they do a great job."
Texarkana, Ark., had a bomb squad technician about 25 years ago who had a rudimentary operation in place.
Jordan said TAPD has not attempted to replace him primarily due to the expense involved in training and equipment. "Simply put, there are too many other needs that consume our budget El Dorado's bomb squad is funded through federal grants that are limited," he said.
The equipment used Monday near Bi-State costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"The new robot they are getting cost more than $350,000. That one used was $120,000. Add that much or more in training, a vehicle, and a bomb suit and other equipment needed," Jordan said.
It does not cost Texarkana anything to call the El Dorado bomb squad. The MOU obligates them to respond to requests.
"It doesn't cost anything more than a lunch to ask them to come to town," Jordan said.
Starting a bomb squad has been considered in the past by Texarkana, Texas, police also.
But, like the Arkansas-side, it is considered too expensive, said Shawn Vaughn, spokesman for TTPD.
"It would be cost-prohibitive in terms of equipment and training for something we would need maybe once in five or six years. Given the infrequency, it just does not make sense. It's one of those things that makes good fiscal sense to utilize what is already accessible in the region," Vaughn said.
TTPD primarily relies on the Plano, Texas, bomb squad when needed and has also used the Barksdale Air Force Base bomb squad.