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6 Cleveland bomb squad members ask to leave after supervisor brings live explosive to training, union says

Posted at 6:17 PM, Feb 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-01 18:40:10-05

CLEVELAND — Six members of Cleveland's bomb squad have asked to be reassigned after a supervisor brought a potentially live explosive to a training, police union President Jeff Follmer said.

The item in question has been described to News 5 as a potentially live explosive, meaning it still had the necessary parts where it could have been detonated.

According to Follmer, the incident happened on Jan. 5 at a training exercise at Cleveland Hopkins Airport in the parking lot.

"There's guys with lots of years of experience and they say they’ve never experienced anything like this before," he said. "From my understanding, this kind of training does not exist and should not be done."

Rob vonLoewenfeldt became a bomb technician twenty years ago. Now he serves as executive vice president at the United States Bomb Technician Association, a nonprofit which works to help connect the more than 450 bombs squads across the nation.

vonLoewenfeldt adds while more information surrounding the circumstances in Cleveland is needed, it is unusual for members of a bomb squad to give up the hours and hours of training they’ve accumulated.

"We are really, really safety conscious because everything we do can have catastrophic consequences," he said. "We are not typically going to bring a homemade, live, improvised explosive device and just us gather around it and X-ray it. That would be atypical if that happened."

Follmer adds those bomb squad members waited until after Cleveland hosted the NBA All Star game to make the request.

"These guys didn’t want to leave," he said. "They're concerned about the city of Cleveland, but they’re concerned about their safety."

Cleveland police said they are conducting an internal review of the incident but would not comment on any staffing issues.

There were eight members on the bomb squad, according to Follmer.