Jul 292008
Authors: Kelli Pryor

Excitement spread through the crowd as the time grew closer to detonation. Hundreds of teens lined the hills of CSU’s West Lawn waiting for the much-anticipated display of heavy explosives — TNT and dynamite — to blast off a few hundred feet in front of them.

The announcer called upon the audience to countdown to explosion time.

“Three, two, one.”

At “one,” a massive explosion went off on the lawn. The sound reverberated in the spectators’ chests as if they were standing in front of a speaker at a rock concert. Some screamed, but most simply stared in awe.

The detonation of several large explosives began Friday’s festivities celebrating the end of a weeklong conference held at CSU for members of the National Law Enforcement Exploring Program, consisting of teens interested in joining law enforcement.

Members of the program came from all over the country to CSU last Monday so they could participate in activities aimed at teaching them about law enforcement.

“[The Explorers] help out police officers,” said Nikita Tietsort, a 16-year-old from Columbia, Mo. “We are an extra pair of hands for them.”

The Explorers, ranging in age from 14 to 21, “want to get into law enforcement after school,” said Jerry Blevins, coordinator for the Explorer Program in Dearborn, Mich.

Friday’s finale to the conference showed the teens the more exiting areas of police work.

The explosives demonstration by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives detonated live commercial and military explosives. Spectators could feel the heat from some of the displays, particularly the “wall of fire.” The grand finale of the explosives exhibition sent two tires shooting into the air at least a hundred feet.

“It’s a reduced demo of what [ATF] normally do [out in the field], but it’s still pretty neat,” said Special Agent Don Yorke.

Next, the West Lawn became the stage to a canine attack demonstration. The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office showed the audience how they use dogs to search for evidence as well as apprehend suspects.

At one point, the “suspect” in the demonstration began to flee from the police but was quickly taken to the ground by Justice, the team’s german shepard.

The culmination of the event came with a demonstration by the U.S. Marshall Special Operations Group.

The members of SOG surprised the audience by landing a Colorado Army National Guard Black Hawk helicopter a few hundred yards in front of them and performing a simulation of a special mission complete with an armored vehicle and explosions.

It might be a long time before CSU’s West Lawn sees this amount of action again, though.

Special Agent Carrie DiPirro said the conference is held at different places every year, and CSU was the sponsor for this year.

Staff writer Kelli Pryor can be reached at news at collegian.com.

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