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      Illinois Secretary of States bomb squad trains monthly

      Since 9/11, the Illinois Secretary of States Bomb Squad team has been receiving more calls about suspicious packages and bomb threats.

      The nine-member team takes these threats very seriously.

      And each month they put in at least 16 hours of training as they continue their efforts to keep the public safe.

      Doug Brinkley and Dale Cox are two members of the secretary of state's bomb squad.

      And the equipment they use helps them to decide if a suspicious package is the real deal or a false alarm.

      "The dogs are used for detection, more of a sweep or a search type of thing. If we find something and you know it's suspicious, whatever it be, we're not using a dog. Then we go into the tech side of it using the robots and tools we have to actually take a look a the package or whatever it be, to see of it actually involves an explosive or not," Cox said.

      The bomb squad practiced at the now vacant Lamoine Village apartments in Macomb. Team members set up different scenarios for practice and training. Brinkley said homemade pipe bombs are the most common explosive they encounter. But they must take every threat seriously, no matter what.

      "Someone will write a note or a message on a bathroom stall, "hey there's a bomb in the building." Well years ago, a janitor would normally just clean that off and go on about his business. Well today it's not like that, they evacuate schools and we have to do searches, so we do that a lot as dog handlers," Brinkley said.

      Brinkley also said the equipment his team uses has advanced with technology. He said piercing water blasts and high tech x-ray machines are just two of the things that help the bomb squad determine what they're dealing with and it also helps them disarm a bomb that's ready to explode.

      The bomb squad averages about 200 calls a year.

      When a team is dispatched, at least two members make the initial contact.

      From there it is decided if more team members are needed to assist.