Police on missing explosives at airport: We messed up

Posted: Updated:

PHOENIX – In his first comments since some explosives disappeared during a training exercise at Sky Harbor Airport, the Phoenix police chief admitted somebody messed up.

Low-grade explosives vanished Friday and turned up Monday. Acting Police Chief Joe Yahnerspoke spoke Tuesday about the need for training and keeping a closer eye on their equipment.

Passengers gathered their bags and went on their way over the weekend with little idea Phoenix police were looking for missing explosives.

“That's the crux of the issue,” Chief Yahner said. “It shouldn't have happened. It shouldn't have. We should have eyes on it the entire time and we made a mistake. We took our eyes off it and it was stolen and we're accountable for that.”

Chief Yahner said they were training dogs in Terminal 4 just outside security Friday afternoon. When they train, they use real explosives that are nearly impossible to blow up.

“It's a training aid that contains the necessary materials for the dog to hit on and we placed it in a common area and we practice like we play,” said Yahner.

But someone grabbed the small cooler bag with the two half pound cylinders inside. After police released pictures to news outlets Monday, a man called saying he had found them.

The chief said they will look at how they conduct the training at the airport, but it will continue. He is happy to have the explosives back, but that doesn't mean there won't be more questions, and possibly disciplinary action.

“We are going to look at this from an internal investigation yes,” said Yahner. “We are going to have our Professional Standards Bureau look at it. We are also going to look at the theft, the theft of the item.”

The chief would not tell us if they have video of that suspect. He felt that would reveal too much about the level of security in that section of the airport.