At about 20 minutes after 1:00pm, on Saturday the 19th of April, the Flint Police communications center received a call to Odette Street in reference to a hand grenade that had been found.
When officers arrived they spoke with a person who told them that they had discovered what they thought to be a hand grenade when tilling up their garden and the device was tossed up by the tiller.
The responding officer (who is a military veteran) recognized the device as an old fashioned “pineapple” grenade, a style that has not been in use in the United States for many years. The device was rusty and covered with mud and the officer couldn't determine if it was “live” or a training grenade (which would mean that it had no explosive inside). To be safe, he called out the Flint Police Bomb Squad.
While waiting for the Bomb Squad men to arrive, the initial officer sets up a perimeter, pushing back any by standers to a safe distance. If this is a real grenade, it is lethal for about 5 meters in all directions and can cause injury even further than that.
When the Bomb Squad arrived they began their examination of the device. Now, this is a process. At this point, no one knows if this is a dangerous, high explosive device or just a hunk of metal designed to simulate a grenade for training. No one knows if this old thing is a dud or a sensitive, hair triggered killing device. The two men of the Bomb Squad have to make “the long walk” to examine and render safe the object. This can’t be done by remote control; it takes a human with a pair of hands, two eyes, a brain and a ton of training to decide what they have and how to make the situation safe.
It also takes a lot of courage.
The fact that the grenade had been tossed up by a roto-tiller does not mean that it will take even the slightest further handling. Being tossed up by the tiller may mean that the device is inert or the “toss” may have destabilized the ancient grenade just enough to cause the next touch to set it off in the hand of the technician. No on knows and yet the Bomb Squad men still have to deal with it.
At 2:06 pm an ambulance and a paramedic stage nearby…just in case.
At 3:35 pm: The device is rendered safe by the Bomb Squad men. Now they have to turn their attention to a detailed search of the surrounding area, if there was one device there may be more. The Bomb Squad men search using metal detectors; they have to dig at each alert.
Care and attention to detail are the hallmarks of the Bomb Squad. The personnel assigned are volunteers from the ranks of the Flint Police Department while you seldom hear about their activities. They are (in addition to their regular duties) on call 24 hours a day 365 days a year. They handle numerous calls each year with little notice from outside of the Police Department.
Today was just another day at work for them.
Good job to the men of the Flint Police Bomb Squad.