Bomb Scene Investigator and Weapons of Mass Destruction
Written by James T. Thurman   

Since the very first response to an explosion or bomb scene, first responders and investigators have been acutely aware of the hazards associated with these scenes. The risks of fire, structural collapse, presence of explosives, and secondary devices are evident. As the number of incidents and scale of destruction have increased through the years, so have the hazards. Some were always possible, but due to the lack of adequate technology, science, and understanding, they were not recognized. These include diseases associated with the blood and bodily fluids of the victims, gases resulting from explosions, industrial chemicals, and suspended particulate matter in the form of asbestos.

However, as a direct result of the globalization of nuclear weapons and energy, biological and chemical warfare agents, and the increasing number of unscrupulous persons who would not hesitate, given the chance, to use these weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on an unsuspecting population, the potential for catastrophic consequences has never been greater than it is today. Indeed, as chemical and biological agents have already been used in terrorist incidents, there is a widespread belief that it is not a question of whether these materials will be used again, but when they will be used and how many people will be affected. But how will these insidious weapons be employed or used in future incidents? One has to look only at the improvisation of explosives to answer that question; it entirely depends on the abilities, access to the materials, and resourcefulness of the terrorist. In short, no one knows! Some believe that the use of nuclear, biological, or chemical materials will be masked by another incident, such as a major bombing. Yes, explosives can, in fact, act as a clandestine delivery mechanism to spread these weapons over a large area. And, yes, some of the potential destructive power released by these weapons would be reduced as a result of the fireball from the detonating explosives. The detonation of explosives can be used to spread ionizing materials over an area in the form of a “dirty bomb,” but this is only one of many mechanisms that could be employed.

As a result of the present-day realities regarding these “newfound” hazards, public safety responders and investigators have an enhanced responsibility to accurately, yet safely, assess the incident scene, regardless of its perceived type. Of particular importance is the response to a reported explosion, and the actions taken by not only the first responders but also the investigative team that conducts the scene investigation. However, before an intelligent assessment can be performed, the additional hazards and their identification methods must be fully understood. This chapter will provide this understanding for the bomb scene investigator and first responders who respond to a reported explosion. Specifically, this chapter will define and identify the five major types of WMD, enumerate their major hazards, explain the methods of identifying an incident involving WMD and the procedures used to protect the responders from the effects of WMD, identify agencies that can provide assistance in responding to an incident involving WMD, and examine key issues regarding the collection of evidence at a crime scene involving WMD.

A full-scale model of “Little Boy,” the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Types of Weapons of Mass Destruction

A weapon of mass destruction is defined as any object or material capable of causing large-scale property damage or fatalities. The types of materials or weapons included within this broad definition are biological, nuclear, incendiary, chemical, and explosives materials (BNICE):

  • Biological
  • Nuclear
  • Incendiary
  • Chemical
  • Explosives

Biological warfare agents are living organisms that are used to intentionally cause disease in or harm humans, animals, or plants. Nuclear materials are those that produce ionizing radiation or radioactivity that is capable of causing cellular change (damage) in living tissue. Living tissue includes that in humans, animals, and plants. Chemical agents are incapacitating solids, liquids, or gases that, if absorbed or ingested in sufficient quantities, can cause serious injury or death. Biological and chemical agents have no useful, commercial application; however, some less-refined chemical materials are routinely used as pesticides and for water purification. However, nuclear materials have very beneficial applications in the generation of electrical power and in the production of medicine.

Fire or incendiary and explosives (bombings) are new additions to these mass destruction materials. Formerly, they were referred to as nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) hazards. However, as a result of the major vehicle and aircraft bombings throughout the world and the horrific death tolls resulting from packing large quantities of explosives in movable bombs, the use of explosives was logically included under the WMD heading. The use of modern-day, but not the first, large-scale vehicle bombs (large vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices [LVBIEDs]) began with the bombing of the U.S. Army Mathematics Research Center on the campus of the University of Wisconsin at Madison on August 24, 1970, and the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) violence in Northern Ireland and England. The bombings of the U.S. embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, on two occasions and the loss of more than 240 American Marines in the Beirut airport bombing, the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing, and countless other significant vehicle bombings have taken place during the past 30 years. Large quantities of explosives are not required for an incident to be classified as involving WMD—airliners have been blown out of the sky with small quantities of explosives, resulting in the loss of hundreds of innocent lives. Certainly, the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the extensive damage to the Pentagon, and the crash of the fourth airliner into the Pennsylvania countryside on September 11, 2001, with the loss of more than 3,000 lives, involved no explosives at all but airliners that were used as bombs.

Large fires have the potential to destroy hundreds of lives in a very short time. History has shown that accidental fires have been the scourge of development in cities. Consider the Chicago Fire of October 9, 1871, and the 1906 San Francisco Fire following the great earthquake. The earthquake toppled buildings and opened streets, but the fire destroyed the city. We have helplessly observed raging fires that were accidentally started in limited-egress structures that resulted in the deaths of most of the inhabitants. On the other hand, imagine an arson fire, conceived as a horrendous plan to cause the maximum number of casualties within a densely packed structure. Unquestionably, fire has been used as a weapon to conceal another crime, and it can be used as WMD.

From these identified weapons, what can investigators and first responders reasonably expect to encounter, and what impact will it have on their community? A simple question without a simple answer. Regarding nuclear materials and weapons, it depends on known or perceived factors regarding the proliferation of nuclear weapon design technology, the desire of the terrorists, the availability of intact weapon systems, and access to construction materials and raw ingredients. As an example, the use of a state-constructed nuclear device that functions according to its designed manner with an associated nuclear yield would have catastrophic consequences, including the immediate loss of millions of lives and long-term radiological zones that may be uninhabitable for hundreds of years. Thankfully, the probability of someone gaining access to such a weapon is very low. However, with nations such as Pakistan having nuclear weapons amid a potentially unstable central government, this possibility may very well change in the future. In addition, some argue that the former Soviet Union has not accounted for all its nuclear weapons. On the other hand, analysts theorize that any terrorists detonating a nuclear weapon would be sealing their own demise by alienating their constituency, and in addition to the country providing the weapon, they would pay the ultimate price for their actions. Likewise, others argue that some terrorist groups would not care, in the least, about these consequences, as their “agenda” would be achieved.

Of higher probability, but possibly providing a reduced impact, is the detonation of an improvised nuclear device (IND). The use of an IND assumes that terrorists could not only gain access to sufficient fissionable material (plutonium, uranium, and so on) but also assemble personnel with the technical knowledge and building blueprints to construct such devices. The impact would be less, it is theorized, as the improvisation would decrease the weapon’s yield or destructive power. However, less impact could be considered moot, as the nuclear yield from an IND could kill hundreds of thousands of people and could have the same long-lasting effects as a state-built device. This is a possibility, but not really an immediate reality, owing to the immense technical difficulties of constructing a nuclear bomb that has an effective nuclear yield. However, a much higher probability is the detonation of a dirty bomb or a radiological dispersal device (RDD). The dirty bomb uses conventional explosives to disperse radioactive materials over the target area. There is no nuclear yield; therefore, the impact would be localized to where the explosives detonated, depending on the wind speed and distance “downrange.” Access to nuclear materials used in medical facilities and power generation plants, a possible source of materials for a dirty bomb, is strictly controlled, but no controlling system is infallible. Access to explosives is also controlled, but hundreds of pounds go missing every year.

Moving on to a higher level of possibility is the use of toxic industrial chemicals, improvised chemical agents, or stolen state-manufactured chemical agents. First, consider state-manufactured chemical agents. Certainly, more countries possess chemical agents for warfare than do the countries that have “bombs.” Although treaties are in place for the destruction of chemical agent stock-piles in the United States and Russia, not all of these countries’ inventories have been destroyed as yet. Other countries, such as North Korea, Syria, and Iran, still harbor stockpiles of chemical agents. Some believe that the level of security for chemical agents does not have a high priority, thereby making it easier for terrorists to take what they want or simply buy them from illicit state-sponsored merchants. On the other hand, it is not too difficult to clandestinely manufacture toxic chemical agents or, if one does not have the manufacturing expertise or ingredients, industrial chemicals that generally have some of the same lethal characteristics as toxic chemical agents manufactured for use in war. Their use would have a potential impact on the general target area for a varying period, depending on the type of chemical used. After the passage of time or effective decontamination of the scene, life could return to normal in the area affected by the chemicals, as they are relatively easy, in comparison with nuclear or biological materials, to remove from the scene, or they decompose over time from the effects of weather conditions. However, the devastation and loss of life brought on by these chemicals could be horrendous.

The use of explosives as WMD has the highest probability of any of the “weapons,” depending on the quantity of explosives used and how it is used. As improvised explosive devices (IEDs) are used throughout the world every day, their effectiveness as a weapon cannot be debated. However, whether their use is classified as an actual WMD entirely depends on the two preceding factors—quantity and use. Also, what is the actual definition of “mass destruction”—hundreds or thousands killed? The answer is relative to the situation, I would argue. Explosives do have the capability of producing thousands of casualties, but as already witnessed in large vehicle bombings, their casualty rate is usually less than a thousand injured, with a few hundred losing their lives.

Fire has a lower probability of use than explosives but rates higher on the potential impact scale. This statement is based on some of the disastrous fires that the world has witnessed. Once a fire starts, it usually stops for one of two reasons: firefighters extinguish the flames, or the fire runs out of fuel to burn. In most locations that would have the highest impact of a caused (arson) fire, fire departments stand ready to limit its progression into a “weapon.” This is not to assert that people would not lose their lives and property, but the loss would be limited by an effective fire suppression network of firefighters. On the other hand, in areas such as rural or forested land, which do not have as many firefighters as cities have, the impact on human lives would still be rather negligible, and hence, no WMD.

Biological agents have the capability of destroying human life, as we know it. Their use is only constrained by a lack of access to the materials and unknown factors. Throughout history, infectious diseases have killed millions through the Great Plague of Europe and the pandemics of smallpox and influenza. These outbreaks were not due to an intentional release of the microorganisms but were spread by unwitting travelers in overcrowded cities that lacked in sanitation. Yes, disease was selectively used in Europe in the Middle Ages and before, but the effects were local. Today, a more sinister possibility confronts the world. The advent of gene-splicing research has in essence opened a Pandora’s box. It is unimaginable as to what may be lurking in the shadows in terms of these “engineered” pathogens. Biological weapons have most likely been perfected, and these can be spread quickly and efficiently to infect untold millions of people. These diseases have no known cure, and worst yet, the only way to stop the progression of the disease is to isolate the infected and wait for them to die. Hopefully, access to these types of pathogens is under the strictest of security, similar to that used for nuclear weapons.

However, state-supported biological programs are not required for a disease to be used as WMD. Other diseases, such as influenza, plague, and Ebola, are known to exist in the world, and they could be collected, cultured, and used as weapons. Likewise, unscrupulous medical researchers could grow various organisms in the laboratory, which could be released into the target area to cause catastrophic effects. Essentially, the knowledge and raw materials for the manufacture of biological weapons are not as great a challenge as for nuclear weapons, but their impact could be global. In addition, biological weapons have been used, thankfully on a limited scale, to cause sickness and death. As such, the probability and impact of their use are judged to be the most significant of any of the identified weapons. Apparently, their use as WMD is only a matter of time.

Indicators of WMD Presence

  • Senses
  • Intelligence
  • Detection and monitoring equipment
  • Circumstantial indicators

Senses include sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch or, in other words, the bodily mechanisms that receive and interpret information from our surroundings. However, owing to unfamiliarity with the incoming information in a possible WMD incident, the senses may not recognize and understand what they are receiving. This would not be an unusual situation, especially if the responding investigator was not “expecting” an unusual incident. This is exactly what the terrorist would be planning in an incident involving WMD: that the first responders and investigators do not anticipate the type of incident that they will be faced with on arrival. The type of data or information received will greatly depend on the type of an incident involving WMD. This is very much like the finely attuned sensory perception of responding public safety officers to safety and personnel protection. As an example, the law enforcement officer responding to a reported “shots-fired” incident will be keenly aware of his or her surroundings, people, and the movements of others. On arrival, whether or not the officer observes a firearm, he or she will be reactive to any sudden movement from personnel that he or she is observing or others who may suddenly appear. This movement may activate training to immediately assess the situation to determine whether the movement is threatening. If threatening, an appropriate response will be forthcoming from the officer. Self-preservation! It is understood that it is not easy to sensitize responders to potential WMD threats in the same manner as the “normal” threats observed from day to day. As such, it is imperative that first responders and investigators are able to recognize the warning signs of these WMD threats and to take appropriate actions. Again, the key to protection is being able to recognize the various signs that may indicate WMD use or pending use. As received through the senses of the first responder or investigator, the indicators of possible WMD use will be divided into three threats: chemical, biological, and radiological.

Chemical indicators (both accidental and criminal or terrorist-motivated; note that more than one of these indicators may be present at the incident site) include the following:

  • The presence of numerous dead animals, birds, and fish in the same area, with no logical explanation.
  • The lack of normal insect activity in and around the ground, air, and/or water. As such, the next course of action should be an inspection of the area for dead or dying insects on the ground or in the water supply.
  • Personnel in the general area who complain of unexplained respiratory difficulties; rashes; problems with eyesight or extreme sensitivity to sunlight or, the opposite, that is, an inability to see from a diminished light source (pinpointed pupils); sensation of burning skin; and possible formation of blisters.
  • Numerous mass casualties from no identified sources. These personnel could exhibit symptoms of extreme difficulty in breathing, nausea, disorientation, convulsions, and death. This would be especially true should the first responders begin to exhibit these symptoms soon after arrival or following contact with victims of the unexplained “sickness.” The possible distribution pattern of these affected personnel, which may be indicative of a specific agent dissemination method, such as aerosol spray and liquid droplets, is also associated with mass casualties.
  • Illnesses, which may be associated with a confined area versus an indoor area or vice versa. This could indicate whether the dissemination method was used indoors, out-doors, or both.
  • The observable presence of unusual liquid droplets that exhibit an oily film not normally associated with rain or early-morning moisture or dew.
  • Areas of grass, trees, shrubs, bushes, or food crops that are dead, discolored, or withered for no apparent reason.
  • The presence of unexplained and unusual odors that are out of character with their surroundings. These odors may range from fruity, flowery, sharp or pungent, horseradish-like, and bitter almonds to new-mown hay.
  • Low-lying clouds or fog-like conditions that are not explained by their surroundings, weather conditions, and time of day.
  • Unexplained metal debris around the incident site, especially metal fragments that exhibit an oily residue not associated with recent rains.
  • Biological indicators of a possible biological agent attack are problematic, at best, due to the time delay from exposure to the time at which the first symptoms appear. First symptoms may not present from days to weeks; however, some symptoms do begin to appear in the first several hours. The time that elapses before symptoms are observed depends on the agent used and the dose received. Other symptoms likely to occur include unexplained gastrointestinal illnesses and upper respiratory problems similar to colds or flu.

Radiological indicators of a possible use of radiological materials in an incident depend on the radioactive material used and the dose received. Any number of symptoms could appear from days to weeks following the exposure. These indicators include the following:

An unusual number of sick and dying people and animals. If not discovered by the first responders during their initial response, the responders and investigators would be included in the casualties. Indeed, this large-scale exposure should not logically occur because of the proliferation of radiological detection equipment available to the first responders. However, some of the identifiable symptoms are similar to chemical agent exposure: reddening skin and, in severe cases, vomiting.

  • Unusual metal containers or fragments and fragmented bomb-like metal debris, which exhibit radiation sources.
  • Materials that emit heat without any visible source of heat may be radioactive sources.
  • Materials that are highly radioactive and may appear to glow. This glow is referred to as a radio luminescence.

Intelligence or warnings concerning the possible use of WMD can come from a number of various sources, including state and local public safety departments, federal agencies, and organizations that have an international responsibility, such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the U.S. Department of State. Many governments have similar intelligence-gathering capabilities, be it through overt or through covert means. In addition, although often not recognized as such, the media is an important source of intelligence-gathering and dissemination capabilities. In some instances, the media may provide more timely intelligence information to the general public and, therefore, to first responders and investigators than the “official” channels. The role of intelligence agencies in combating WMD is multilayered. However, for assisting in the determination of the presence of WMD, the intelligence agencies’ role is generally regarded as an informational one to warn the public and response agencies of the possibility of WMD usage. As such, this mechanism is effectively used in the following scenarios: (1) to sensitize the public and response agencies to the possibility in order to prevent an inadvertent exposure, should a weapon be covertly used, (2) to place the general public and public safety officials on alert, so that any suspicious activity can be reported and measures can be taken to stop an ongoing terrorist operation, and (3) following the use of a WMD, to sensitize the public and responders to the measures used to control the spread of WMD materials.

The national threat-level warning system initiated in the United States following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, is an example of public measures used to warn the public and responders of the possibility of terrorist/WMD activity. This system continues to be used to place the citizens of the United States on a heightened level of security awareness, when information or events require it. However, problems have been identified with such warning systems when they are used too often, without an actual event occurring. The problem is that “shouting wolf” too many times when there is not in fact a wolf at the door may render a system useless. On the other hand, following the release of anthrax in 2001, the American public was warned of the possible presence of WMD material, anthrax, and measures were taken to prevent the spread of the spores.

Of the methods currently available to determine the presence of WMD materials, detection and monitoring equipment is the most reliable and efficient. The equipment used to identify the presence of these hazardous materials is divided into various groups, depending on the type of material believed to be present. A separate type of instrument is required to detect and identify biological and nuclear materials. While the same instrument can identify solid and liquid industrial chemicals, incendiaries, explosives, and the precursors used in their fabrication—no one instrument has, as yet, been developed to identify the presence of all hazards. These pieces of equipment range from highly portable field-analysis kits and chemical agent detection paper, to rather large and not-so-portable laboratory instruments. However, as an urgent need exists for smaller, compact, and efficient detection materials, much of the detection equipment has undergone a significant reduction in size and, at the same time, has become more user friendly. As an example, a series of small, user-friendly, handheld product identification instruments are available from Thermo Fisher Scientific. The FirstDefender RMX and TruDefender FTX have been shown to be exceptionally effective in not only detecting but also identifying more than 10,000 chemicals, explosives, incendiaries, and the precursors for their illicit preparation (Figures 1 and 2). The FirstDefender RMX incorporates Raman spectroscopy, while the TruDefender FTX uses Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy. Essentially, the RMX uses a nondestructive laser beam, which can penetrate transparent containers to “gather” information on the unknown material.

Figure 1—The FirstDefender RMX and TrueDefender FTX are small, handheld instruments that can reliably identify more than 10,000 unknown solids, liquids, and chemicals, including explosives, drugs, and toxic chemical agents. (Courtesy of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.)

Figure 2—Both FirstDefender RMX and TrueDefender FTX can be easily used, even when the user is wearing the very heavy and bulky “bomb suit.” (Courtesy of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.)

Therefore, the RMX does not require the material to be collected and contact the instrument. On the other hand, the FTX does require the materials to be collected and placed into the analysis container in the instrument for examination. The rationale to use both of these is rooted in the technology limitations of Raman and FTIR; they complement each other. However, Thermo Fisher Scientific was aware of the “physical” limitations of trying to use two separate analytical instruments and has developed one tool to perform both functions, Raman and FTIR. Gemini was released in 2015 as a combination of both functions into one instrument (Figure 3). Gemini has come a long way from the first Ahura FirstDefender by offering a dual-capability analytical tool—an expanded database and a faster response time in providing the results of the scans.

Figure 3—The Gemini combines the functions of the FirstDefender RMX and TrueDefender FTX into one instrument. (Courtesy of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.)

In modern times, possibly the oldest need to detect WMD came from the battlefields of Europe during World War I. This need was for the detection of chemical agents, chlorine, and blister agents. In response to this requirement, various chemical agent detector kits were developed to identify the presence of very hazardous chemicals. The detector kits, very similar to ones in use today, were not based on electronics but on the reaction of a chemical agent to a reactive material. These kits are very simple to use and provide a rather quick (within seconds) indication of the presence of a chemical agent and an identification of the agent. Examples of such detector/identification kits are found in the military versions M18A2 and M256A1 (Figure 4). Also, M9 chemical agent detection paper is available for the detection of liquid nerve and blister agents. When the paper is placed in contact with a suspected nerve or blister agent, the color of paper changes when the agent is detected. However, the use of the specially treated detection paper does not identify which of the chemical agents is present; it just indicates that a chemical agent is there.

Figure 4—(Top left) The M256A1 chemical agent detector kit, effective for the detection of nerve, blister, and blood agents.

Continued development of chemical agent detectors has resulted in highly effective handheld electronic detection instruments. These detectors offer a broad-based detection capability for a number of chemical agents. Continued development has resulted in the manufacture of instruments that detect not only chemical agents but also other threats such as nuclear radiation.

The need to detect nuclear radiation began during the development of nuclear energy itself. Indeed, if there was no method to detect the energy being released by the nuclear materials during their production, how would the scientists know, in fact, that any energy had been produced? The method used today to detect ionizing radiation is based on the invention of the Geiger counter by the German physicist Hans Geiger in 1928. As with other instruments, the first detectors were rather crude and bulky, but they have since been transformed into extremely accurate instruments to not only detect the presence of ionizing radiation but also quantitatively determine the amount of radiation present. Furthermore, some of the more sensitive instruments have a “standoff” capability to detect and measure radiation from a long distance, ensuring a greater measure of safety to the operator. Regarding size, some detectors have been developed to be worn on the belts of first responders to detect the presence, but not the quantity, of radiation in the area (Figures 5 and 6).

Figure 5—A handheld radiation detector that not only detects radiation but also measures the dosage rate of the radiation.

Figure 6—A personal radiation detector and alarm. Because of its small size, it is worn on the person.

Certainly, the most rapid development of detectors has been in the field of biological agent detection. Only a few years ago, no detection instrument was generally available for first responders and investigators to accurately detect and identify biological agents in the field. The only method available at that time was to collect a sample and take it to a laboratory for a lengthy analytical process. As can be imagined, this was not acceptable with the influx of “modern” terrorism. Today, a variety of detection methods and instruments have been fielded for first responders and investigators, who may be required to enter and investigate the possible use of a biological agent.

The miniaturization of explosives detectors as an accurate means of detection continues to be an ongoing process. Extremely accurate explosives detectors have been developed, but most of them are generally relegated to the laboratory, owing to their size or requirement for external power. Indeed, some instruments that are battery operated, such as the Ahura FirstDefender, have been developed. The FirstDefender has been shown in rugged field tests to be extremely accurate in identifying a broad range of commercial, military, and improvised explosives. Further, small presumptive field test kits for the detection, not identification, of explosives have been developed. One of the best tools used to identify the presence of explosives, but not the specific type, continues to be a dog or a pig. Research has shown that trained pigs are somewhat better at detecting explosives than dogs are. However, because of the social stigma associated with the use of pigs, dogs are routinely used to detect the presence of explosives when a suspicious package is discovered or when a general search is instituted following a bomb threat. Although a portable explosives detector for remote detection of minute quantities of explosives that may be present on the exterior of a bomb-laden vehicle from a distance of hundreds of meters is not currently available, intensive research is underway to field deploy such a detector.

Incendiary materials such as natural gas or propane, vapors resulting from pooled flammable liquids, and methane can easily be detected with available detection equipment. Indeed, these instruments have been a part of the personal protective equipment for firefighters, utility workers, and underground miners for years. Yet, research continues to develop smaller and more reliable equipment.

Circumstantial indicators are those that depend on the circumstances of a particular situation or are incidental to an attack. These indicators include unusual activities surrounding an incident, the significant timing of an incident, or incidents with unusual circumstances. For example, Timothy McVeigh planned his attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, to coincide with the anniversary of the Branch Davidian sect fire outside of Waco, Texas, which destroyed the compound. Worldwide, there have been other bombing incidents, not necessarily involving WMD, that occurred on the anniversaries of significant incidents.

Unusual activities can mean almost anything to anyone, but within law enforcement communities, these usually include activities that arouse the suspicion of law enforcement officers. It is a known fact that law enforcement personnel develop what can be called a “gut feeling” or a “sixth sense” regarding activity that would not arouse suspicion from most other citizens. By observing these “unusual activities” or even upon being informed of such activities by others, law enforcement personnel can often begin an initial inquiry into planned terrorist activities, which could result in the prevention of a planned WMD or other incident. Regarding the events following a “regular” incident, this “gut feeling” that everything is not what it seems may arouse the suspicious nature of first responders and investigators, prompting them to look deeper into the incident. An example could be the detonation of an RDD or a dirty bomb in which there are no immediate effects of radiation. The circumstances could possibly include the detonation of a small quantity of explosives, which produced limited damage, but in an area of great significance. By looking at the scene, first responders and investigators could question the rationale of using such a small device that produced limited damage in an important area. As such, by looking beyond the scene, the investigator could save many lives by identifying that the incident did, in fact, involve the use of WMD.

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