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BPD bomb squad technicians complete FBI training

February 23, 2019

The Brownsville Police Department has two newly certified bomb technicians who just finished six weeks of academically and physically rigorous training.

Officers Lucio Cortinas and David Trevino just returned Saturday from Huntsville, Alabama after completing the training at the FBI Hazardous Devices School.

Getting accepted is not a walk in the park.

Both Trevino and Cortinas have been assistant bomb technicians with the bomb squad for five years, said Master Bomb Technician Robert Tyler.

"This is how long we’ve been waiting to get into the FBI school," Tyler said.

But the newest bomb technicians didn’t have to wait as long as others across the nation because the department, which receives Homeland Security Investigations funding, has regional responsibility.

"We are members of an exclusive front line defense for homeland security," Tyler said.

The Brownsville Police Department’s bomb squad is one of four in Deep South Texas, including McAllen, Laredo and Corpus Christi. The BPD is responsible for all of Cameron County north, until halfway to Corpus, Tyler said.

The Brownsville PD’s bomb squad first became accredited in 2005 and in addition to its personnel, has two robots it can deploy from the department’s Hazardous Response Unit—a vehicle equipped with all the tools the bomb squad needs to respond to dangerous situations.

One such incident happened on Jan. 11, 2013, at a home on Resaca Vista Drive when what first responders initially thought was a structure fire turned into a disturbing bombing that seriously injured a five-year-old girl. The child’s father, who was also injured in the attack, eventually pleaded guilty to smuggling approximately 1,000 pounds of marijuana.

After the victims were rushed to the hospital, the bomb squad spend much of the day containing the scene, including rendering unexploded devices safe.

Tyler, who remembers the incident, said that he was told this incident was the first residential bombing since Unibomber Ted Kacynski days of terror and that then-Vice President Joe Biden was monitoring the scene.

This is just one example of why bomb technicians like Trevino and Cortinas receive such rigorous training from the FBI because while bombings are rare, when such an incident does occur, the best need to be on scene.

And with such a large geographical area of responsibility, Trevino and Cortinas, along with the rest of the bomb squad, will remain busy.

Trevino said the bomb squad responds to an average of 40 to 50 calls each year and officers always assumes the worst.

"It’s a bomb until we can prove otherwise," Trevino said.

mreagan@brownsvilleherald.com