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Bomb Squad Failed To Weigh Explosives In 27th Street Explosion, OIG Finds

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — The Office of the Inspector General found that the Los Angeles Police Department Bomb Squad did not physically weigh any explosives before detonation, including in 2021 explosion which injured more than a dozen people.

"It was clear that the practice of visually estimating the weight of the disposal product was the only method used by the LAPD Bomb Squad during TCV detonations, both prior to and including this one," officials wrote in the report.

17 Injured After Planned Detonation Of Seized Illegal Fireworks Ends In Explosion
A planned detonation of fireworks seized from a home in South Los Angeles ended up in a large explosion. June 30, 20201. (CBSLA)

The explosion that ensued the officers' misstep led to over a dozen people being injured, numerous buildings and vehicles destroyed and the Total Containment Vessel, which is 525 pounds and used to safely detonate explosives, being launched onto a roof 1300 feet away. The TCV is what the LAPD uses to safely detonate explosives.

The report determined that in addition to not weighing the explosives, which were illegal fireworks, the report found that a lack of training and supervision deficiencies directly led to the catastrophic explosion in June 2021.

According to the report, the OIG also determined that the practice of not weighing explosives became standard operating procedure even though no one on the bomb squad had an accurate understanding of the rated capacity of the TCV.

"The limited information they had acquired was informally gathered in conversation with other staff, as opposed to through any formal TCV training process," the report said.

The deficiencies in training were further exemplified after the bomb technician who was tasked with making the counter charge used to blow up the illegal fireworks "did not meet the minimum training standards for any of the five years prior to this incident."

According to the report, the total number of training hours completed by bomb squad members steadily dropped from 10,000 hours in 2016 to 6,873 hours in 2020. In the six months leading up to the 27th Street explosion, 3,042 training hours were completed.

In addition to insufficient training, OIG found that there was a lack of supervision leading up to the event with the leader of the bomb squad, named Detective A in the report, opting for a "hands-off" approach to leadership. The detective took this hands-off approach to make his subordinates feel more comfortable and to allow them to craft their own plans of action, according to the report.

"It is the opinion of the OIG that Detective A failed to recognize numerous indicators that this incident required a higher level of supervision than that which was provided," the report said.

One of the indicators were the concerns brought forth by Bomb Technician C. Detective A as well as the rest of the team dismissed the technician's concerns with both Bomb Technician E and Detective A telling him to "relax" before the catastrophic explosion.

The City's Police Commission will be presented this report on their next meeting on Tuesday, March 1.

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