Cuyahoga Land Bank Property Becomes a Training Site for Cleveland Heights Bomb Squad

Every day is a blast for Sgt. Michael Meilstrup of the Cleveland Heights Police Bomb Squad. Now, with help from the Cuyahoga Land Bank, Meilstrup and his crew found a one-day only training site to practice their hazardous work—and one day last month, Land Bank staff got to watch their suspenseful maneuvers firsthand.
“They demonstrated different explosive materials, so we could see which made the biggest explosions,” says Cheryl Stephens, Director of Acquisition, Disposition and Development for the Cuyahoga Land Bank, which worked with the Cleveland Heights Housing Department to provide the space for the squad. “That’s their expertise. It was thrilling to watch it up close!”
The Bomb Squad had been looking for a one-day training site with specific features. It had to be surrounded by plenty of land, Meilstrup says, “because we use disruptors—devices that disarm bombs—that carry a lot of force. There could be shrapnel in a bomb, and we don’t want citizens around.”bomb_squad_training
This made the new training site at 2920 Noble Road perfect for the squad’s drills. A former Pick-n-Pay store, the building measures 20,000 square feet, large enough for setting off explosives, “in the sort of environment where a bomb scare might actually take place,” Meilstrup says. It sits on two acres of land, so neighbors were never in any danger, or troubled by the loud explosions.
The Bomb Squad showed Cuyahoga Land Bank staff the power of bomb disrupting equipment.
Meilstrup concedes that he and his crew have fun destroying things for practice. “No doubt about it—when would we have the opportunity to set a place on fire otherwise?”
But, he adds, the training is critical for both their safety and the community’s. At least 16 hours each month are mandated, “and we try to do more. We have to be fluent in what we’re doing—if we aren’t, there’s a possibility we will lose.
“The last thing we want to do is forget a step, or handle a situation more routinely. We always need to know our capabilities.”

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