AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - A new facility is in the works for The Amarillo Police Department's Bomb Squad.
APD's Bomb Squad is the only one in the Texas Panhandle and they hope their new 6,000 square foot facility will help them better prepare for the all too common events in Amarillo recently like stand offs and other SWAT calls.
The previous 2,000 square foot Bomb Squad building has been demolished, and underground utility work has already begun. And the city says that should be completed by next week if weather permits.
Officials agree, time was taking its toll.
"We've had this building, it's become old and is just in disrepair right now," says APD Officer Jeb Hilton.
The estimated cost of the project is around $44,000, coming out of the general fund as it matches the budget estimate. The city facilities department will act as a project manager using local subcontractors to complete the work.
This new building will be in the exact same location as the last, with some modifications.
"The building is going to be an admin office and a classroom," says Hilton. "There's going to be room for the supervisor of the bomb squad and then there's going to be a classroom that can hold 80 plus people for any kinds of classes that they will need."
Hilton says contrary to what many believe, those on the Bomb Squad do a lot more than just deal with calls relating to bombs and suspicious packages. Many of those on the bomb team are on patrol as officers regularly and when SWAT is called out, they're right beside that team.
"We have several calls during the year that our bomb team will respond to. They show up on all swat calls," says Hilton. "They'll go out on anything that can be a suspicious package or anything that could be a bomb scare. We don't advertise that they're going out, we don't make a big deal about it, but whenever we need them, they are there."
The squad has been operating since 1976, and they hope hosting courses at the new facility will allow them to remain as successful as they've been.
The anticipated date to open the new facility is at the end of January, if weather permits.