A series of mysterious and loud “booms” Monday alarmed many people in Sugar Creek, northern Independence and nearby areas, though law enforcement officials assured there was no danger – just bomb-squad training.
Officers from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Kansas City Police Department conducted bomb-squad training exercises at a LaFarge quarry in Sugar Creek, at Kentucky and Courtney roads near Missouri 291. Police from Sugar Creek and Independence were not part of the training exercises.
John Ham, a spokesperson for the ATF, said the training exercises involved explosives that had been seized as evidence in various criminal cases. Once those cases have gone through the court system, law enforcement needs to dispose of such evidence, and officers can do that safely and still use the opportunity for training purposes.
“We will find a quarry or bomb range, and we'll do that in conjunction with other agencies,” Ham said. “We put counter-charges in to destroy the illegal explosives, but even that can be loud.
“That's the best way to do training. It's very applicable training for the phone call that comes at 3 a.m. for a suspicious device.”
Ham said any citizen alarm was the last thing they wanted to create.
“We certainly apologize for any scare,” he said, “and we know it certainly can be loud when you're dealing with explosives.”
Ham added that Monday morning's weather – some overcast skies as opposed to clear – didn't help matters.
“Heavy cloud cover, or even moderate cloud cover, will keep soundwaves close to the ground. When it's clear that sound will dissipate more.”
Sugar Creek Chief of Police Chris Soule said his department knew about the plans for training exercises, and given the number of calls his department received Monday, hindsight says some prior notice to the public could have helped.
“We'll definitely do that the next time,” he said. “(The quarry) was a controlled area where they already had blasting permits. It was above ground. It was safe – just loud.”