Los Angeles: A recent special inspection by the Los Angeles Police Department has revealed that two K-9 training aids, with the potential to be used as explosives, are unaccounted for. The training aids are used to test explosive detection K-9s’ ability to alert to explosives.
The missing aids were discovered after Chief of Police William J. Bratton, ordered an internal review of explosive detection K-9 handler training protocols. That review was initiated following a March 22, 2005 incident when an explosive detection K-9 supervisor left a bag containing training aids unattended at LAX.
The Department’s Bomb Squad routinely conducts quarterly equipment inventory inspections. But because of the March 22 incident, a special inspection took place on March 30, 2005. During that inspection, it was discovered that two training aids were unaccounted for. An immediate investigation was initiated to locate the aids. When they were not found, Chief Bratton ordered the LAPD to notify the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) as required by Federal regulations. In addition, Mayor James Hahn, Police Commission President David Cunningham, the FBI, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and LAX Airport Police have been notified.
At the direction of Chief Bratton, the Department’s Professional Standards Bureau and the ATF have begun a joint investigation to locate the missing aids, determine how they came to be missing, and find out if any Department policies and or procedures were violated.
The missing training aids contain chemicals that are present in explosives. However, this material cannot be used as an explosive without the proper initiation device, such as a blasting cap. For security reasons the chemical makeup of the materials cannot be disclosed, but the substance in and of itself is not dangerous. Trained explosive-detection K-9s should alert to the training aids just as they would to a real explosive, allowing the dog handlers to verify the dog’s ability to detect explosives. The missing aids were specially manufactured for training purposes and were loaned to the LAPD by the FBI. They are stored in a federally approved facility.
"This issue is of gravest concern to me," said Chief Bratton. "The explosive Detection K-9 unit at LAX performs a vital function. It is important that the protocols, practices and accountability systems of the unit are beyond reproach. I have directed my staff to work closely with the ATF to get this matter resolved."
Additional safeguards have been implemented since the inspection. In addition to quarterly inventory inspections, K-9 handler supervisors must now follow a revised stringent protocol to ensure all training aids are accounted for. A "safety officer" must also be identified for all training sessions, and all law enforcement agencies at LAX must be notified when training is being conducted.