- Associated Press - Friday, October 2, 2015

WATFORD CITY, N.D. (AP) - Watford City’s Police Department plans additional training for officers after one of them improperly handled a potential explosive, sparking a complaint from a suspect who feels she was endangered.

Police Chief Arthur Walgren declined to tell the Williston Herald (https://bit.ly/1VsdEeB ) whether the officer would face any discipline for the incident during which a woman says the officer cut open the device just a few feet away from where she was handcuffed inside a patrol vehicle.

Jessica Garrett, 31, said she and her 34-year-old boyfriend were arrested last month during a traffic stop after police found a suspicious object in a pile of belongings the North Carolina couple had just picked up from storage. Garrett was handcuffed and put in the patrol vehicle of an officer who she said cut open the item in the rear hatch area.

“He brings up something with duct tape wrapped around it . and he cut it in half all the way to the middle,” she said. “I said, ‘Wait a minute, you’re going to cut that open with me in here?’”

The item was a bunch of firecrackers taped together, Garrett said. The officer in court documents described it as “a homemade explosive surrounded by ball bearings.”

“This one was definitely not just a firework,” Walgren said.

The chief said the object was handled improperly at the scene, and the police department has spoken to the Minot bomb squad about providing additional training on what officers should do when dealing with potential explosives.

The department does not have official protocol for such situations, only “rough guidelines” such as securing the area and notifying supervisors, Walgren said.

Garrett is charged with making a false report to law enforcement and possessing drug paraphernalia, an allegation that she also disputes. Her boyfriend, Josh Saffold, 34, faces several charges including possession of a bomb. Garrett said neither of them knows where the item came from. The Associated Press requested comment from Saffold’s attorney.


Information from: Williston Herald, https://www.willistonherald.com

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