WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration announced today the graduation of 10 teams from its National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program. The teams will be assigned to airports in Denver; Miami; Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; and Houston, and to the mass transit system in San Francisco.
Three of the teams will return to San Francisco and another three will serve in Fort Lauderdale. Their increased presence will enhance the transportation systems’ abilities to detect potentially explosive substances while providing an important visual deterrent.
“As part of the Federal Air Marshal Service, the canine program is important to TSA’s multi-layered approach to transportation security,” said Dave Kontny, director, National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program. “These teams can be anywhere in the airport or mass transit system in a matter of minutes and can examine any number of potential threats quickly and efficiently.”
During training, officers were provided instruction on handler skills and explosives safety. Teams spent much of their time searching for explosives training aids in specialized indoor and outdoor training labs that included an aircraft fuselage, a terminal area, cargo warehouse, and a newly-created mass transit terminal. The teams also practiced searching luggage and a parking lot filled with vehicles.
Once the teams return to their airports, they will undergo several hours of proficiency training each week. Within the next few months, the teams will also undergo a rigorous on-site certification process by TSA evaluators.
Because canine teams combine excellent mobility with reliable detection rates, their use today has evolved to include searching areas in response to bomb threats at airports and mass transit terminals, and aircraft, trains, luggage, cargo and vehicles, as well as serving as a proven deterrent to would-be terrorists.
The program is a cooperative partnership with participating airports and mass transit systems. TSA provides and trains the canines, offers in-depth training for the handlers, and partially reimburses the participating agency for costs associated with the teams, such as salaries, overtime, canine food and veterinary care.