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Colorado Springs SWAT mindful of flash bang danger

By Joe Dominguez, Multimedia Journalist - Pueblo Chieftain Bureau , j.dominguez@krdo.com
Published On: Feb 15 2013 10:21:21 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 15 2013 11:45:48 PM CST

A sergeant with Colorado Springs Police SWAT says they are always mindful of the danger that flash bangs pose.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -

Colorado Springs police SWAT is needed, on average, every two to three days all year. A sergeant with the specialized unit said they are always mindful of the danger that flash bangs pose.

SWAT is normally called to serve warrants, respond to hostage situations or end standoffs.     

"We're going into someone's house, we don't know if they have weapons," said  Sgt. Ron Sheppard. "A lot of times, the warrants we execute are for people  who have drugs. A lot of times people who have drugs have guns."

Sometimes they use a flash bang device to startle the person they're after. The device is flammable but it rarely causes severe damage to the home they're entering.

"They can be dangerous," said Sheppard. "They are a pyrotechnic device."

Sheppard said only those trained to use them are allowed to. Those officers go through at least eight hours of training. The SWAT team also carries fire extinguishers in case the flash bang lands on something flammable.

"If you dropped fireworks on your carpet it could set your carpet on fire," said Sheppard.

Sheppard has been a sergeant with SWAT since 2007 but was on the force before that. He only remembers one incident in which the device caused serious damage. The flash bang landed on a couch that had been treated with Scotchgard and lit up quickly.

Sheppard said normally the devices are used just inside the doorway and only if no one is spotted standing near the door.

"It's really meant to overwhelm the senses of the person inside," said Sheppard.

The flash bang also gives off a large boom when it goes off. Sheppard said that noise gives off 175 decibels of sound, not enough to permanently damage the hearing of an average adult. But if police know the home they're going into has children or elderly people, it alters the way they approach the situation.

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