Porter County Sheriff's Office

What's Happening at The Porter County Sheriff's Office


Porter County Gets New Bomb Suit

Porter County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Veal tries on a new protective suit for use on the bomb squad. (Gregg Gearhart / The Times)


VALPARAISO -- Mike Veal looked like he stepped out of the pages of a science fiction story. His fellow Porter County Bomb Squad members looked on as he suited up in one of the squad's new green state-of-the-art bomb suits, walked around the room, then closed himself in a closet. Two suits arrived Thursday night courtesy of the FBI. "Oh man, this ain't nothing compared to the other one," Veal, the squad's commander, said about the new suit. The suit, called SRS-5, weighs about 45 pounds, minus the helmet, less than half the weight of the "big" bomb suits, which the squad has been using. All working bomb squads in the United States are in line to eventually get the new suits, Veal said. Not only will the suits provide squad members more maneuverability in investigating bombs, but they will make the job safer since it doubles the number of suits available for calls. The new suits also allow members to use air packs to protect themselves from hazardous chemicals. The squad has been busy this year, already being called on 13 incidents, three of which involved schools. Most recently, the bomb squad was called to Lake County schools on bomb threats. In Merrillville, the school was evacuated and closed after five threatening notes and a suspicious-looking backpack were found inside the school. The bomb squad determined the backpack, found in a garbage can near the school's industrial arts classroom, contained only paper. At Edison Jr.-Sr. High School in Lake Station, the squad detonated a wired device in a boys' bathroom next to the school library. Last year, the squad was called 29 times, the year before, 30. The squad consists of Veal, coordinator Bill Garner, Chris Eckert, Charles Douthett and Nick Starcevic.

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