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Having a blast at cop camp

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By John Barnhart

Pigs don't fly, but pigs' feet do, with the assistance of a blasting cap.

A new feature of this year's Cop Camp were some demonstrations by the Virginia State Police's bomb unit. Garland Snead, who formerly worked as a trooper assigned to Bedford County but now with the bomb unit, ran their robot through its paces, and also blew some stuff up.

Snead mostly used blasting caps. Blasting caps, used to set off larger explosive charges, are something that a youth may find and Snead wanted to make it clear that they are dangerous. In one blast, he put a cap in gallon paint can and set it off at a safe distance. The can was riddled with shrapnel holes from the blasting cap.

Then, he set off a small blasting cap that he placed on a pig's foot. The foot served as a substitute for a human hand.

"You can see why you don't want to pick up a blasting cap," Snead said, as he showed the youth the foot.

His lesson appeared to sink in. The campers noted that they could see the bone and cartilage where the blast laid the foot open.

Two final explosions involved det cord and plastic explosive. The det cord looks like rope, but police can wrap it around something to blast it. Snead used it to blow a circular hole in a sheet of plywood.

"You can cut down a tree with that cord," he said.

Snead finally used a small sheet of plastic explosive to make a shoe bomb, showing why Richard Reed, the infamous shoe bomber, was up to something deadly. The blast blew a hole in a sheet of plywood. Snead said that the shoe could have accommodated a much larger amount of plastic explosive, which, he said, has the consistency of silly putty.

It's possible to find information on the Internet about how to make an explosive, but Snead pointed out two facts. He told the campers that it's illegal for them to possess or make explosives. It's also dangerous. Snead said that homemade explosives are unstable ? they can blow up when you don't intend them to.