APD bomb squad's unique duties require constant tech, gear upgrades

AUSTIN (KXAN) - A unit of the Austin Police Department that takes on violent, unpredictable crime hopes to get some new equipment in the coming months to help them stay on top of it.

Members of the bomb squad, part of APD’s special operations unit, were in a north Austin neighborhood last week after an explosive device detonated on a man’s front porch, killing him.

Police said Monday the explosion came from a package in front of Anthony Stephan House’s home and was a “targeted” event, though they couldn’t say how the device got onto his porch in the first place.

Not long after, Sr. Ofc. Joshua Eheus was on scene, checking underneath cars near the house as a K-9 team followed close behind. Eheus has been a member of the special operations unit for the last couple years after working in patrol in east Austin.

“I just wanted to be a policeman” when he started, he told KXAN in an interview last week. When he went through training to become an officer, he saw a demonstration of the bomb squad’s robot and realized that’s what he wanted to do.

Thursday his team drove one of the two robots they use out of a large, unmarked box truck parked at their headquarters at the airport. The machine moves on treads and is equipped with a long arm on top — jointed like a human arm — complete with “fingers” to grasp objects.

“So this is kind of our workhorse robot,” Eheus said. “Just about every SWAT call that we go on we end up using this robot in some capacity.”

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