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11 September 2014

‘Sorry for the bomb’: Aussie police apologize for training device left in Sydney airport

Australian police were forced to apologize after it turned out that police officers left explosives in Sydney airport after a sniffer dog training exercise. The devices remained in the airport for almost a month without anyone retrieving them.

Some 230 grams of plastic explosives were left after a dog training exercise August 14. Since then the Australian Federal Police (AFP) did not take away the device, which was hidden inside an “unclaimed” suitcase.

But the training suitcase was discovered on Sept. 9 after it was accidentally given to a woman whose luggage was damaged during a flight.
Finding the explosives, she took them to a local police station in the city of Cessnock, New South Wales. The station then immediately evacuated all its employees as a safety precaution.

The federal police later released a statement apologizing.

“The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has apologized for leaving a training device in a suitcase at Sydney Airport after a canine training exercise on 14 August 2014,” said the statement

The federal police commander at the Sydney airport, Wayne Buchhorn, said the police were taking the mistake seriously.
"The canine instructor who inadvertently left this device behind has been identified and will be the subject of a formal Professional Standards Investigation," he said
. The police said that the device “was not live” during the exercises.
“Although the traveling public was not in danger at any time, we regularly review our processes in this area, and we will do again in the light of this incident,” Buchhorn said.

Federal police dogs are trained to detect currency, drug and explosive odors. They have an “integral role in aviation security and support broader [Australian Federal Police] investigations, helping to keep the Australian public safe,” the statement from the police’s website says.
The incident created a storm in social media, with users mocking the police authorities and likening the incident to “a scene from a Police Academy movie.”
This is not the first time that Australian police have come under fire over security breaches. In August they mistakenly published secret information, including metadata, connected to criminal investigations, which is considered to be in a serious breach of operational security.

A similar incident also happened in July in France, when French police put a block of explosives at Marseille Airport during training exercises and forgot where they had hidden it. The authorities there looked for the explosives for a week to no avail, before giving up the search.