Charleston County bomb squad looks to grant for state-of-the-art X-ray system

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A tough and, occasionally explosive, job could become easier and safer for Charleston County's team of bomb technicians. The bomb squad explains how a state-of-the-art bomb detection gadget could save minutes, when every second counts.

A robot, fitted with several cameras, is the first line of defense if a "suspicious package" is spotted in Charleston County. Bomb squad commander Patrick Morris says they received 137 calls last year.

"We can also use it to get eyes on a situation, eyes on a package. This actually has five different cameras. You have a camera here, here, here, there and behind you."

"Big Al" may look at the package, but it's another device that captures the image inside. Lieutenant Morris says the XRS-3 is the go-to X-ray system for bomb squads around the country, but grabbing an image of a suspicious package is a multi-step process.

"Once whoever the bomb tech is X-rays it, they'll bring the panel and X-ray back, and then we have developers inside, and it will actually develop the X-ray."

The new Open Vision Real-Time x-ray system would be a single step.

"One solid piece of equipment that literally you can lay over a package, hit the button, view the interior of the package on the viewing screen," explains Lieutenant Morris.

He says, while the system they use now requires a 100-foot perimeter, the new device would only require a few feet.

"It saves time, and in addition to that, it can reduce the concern of the public, especially in crowded events."

The price tag for the new X-ray system is $60,000. The money would come from the Homeland Security Grant Program. The Charleston County Sheriff's Office will apply for the grant in September.