The first-ever third-party explosives detection canine team in California’s state capital is now in action after getting TSA’s stamp of approval.
TSA certified canines at K2 Solutions to screen U.S. Priority Mail® on United Continental Airlines flights at Sacramento International Airport (SMF). K2 Solutions offers services to the federal government as well as public and private organizations, fielding a team with many members having experience in anti-terrorism and special operations.
Fulfilling a requirement in the TSA Modernization Act of 2018, TSA launched its Third-Party Canine-Cargo (3PK9) program in December 2018, allowing qualified explosives detection canine teams outside TSA to become regulated certified cargo screeners.
“This program allows TSA to expand its network of certified explosives detection canines, further enhancing aviation security,” said Administrator David Pekoske in a 2018 TSA press release.
With the use of 3PK9, Lead TSA Inspector-Cargo (TSI-C) Priya Prikita said commercial air carriers at SMF, like United Continental Airlines, now have the opportunity to transport screened U.S. Priority Mail. Prikita said she’s very excited about the new program.
“Using 3PK9 is an enhancement to screening cargo,” emphasized Prikita. “I believe having 3PK9 opens the opportunity for other commercial air carriers at SMF to incorporate third-party canines to screen U.S. Postal Service Priority Mail in their operations.”
As Lead TSI-C, Prikita’s role is to ensure ongoing regulatory oversight of air cargo operators and the third-party canine provider. Cargo screening is a partnership at SMF with K2 Solutions having their own explosives detection canines to now screen U.S. Priority Mail while TSA-certified canines with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department screen other air cargo on commercial aircraft.
Before TSA gave its stamp of approval for K2 Solutions to use its canines to screen Priority Mail coming through SMF, TSIs conducted surveillance, document reviews and interviews to make sure the company met all cargo security requirements.
The day before launching the Third-Party Canine-Cargo program at Sacramento International, cargo TSIs met with U.S postal inspectors, management from United Continental Airlines and GAT Airline Ground Support, and K2 Solutions leadership for a live demonstration to make sure everyone was ready for the official kickoff.
Prikita believes TSA’s partnerships with agencies like these are critical to further enhance air cargo security.
“Engagement with stakeholders can help you identify risks and provides an opportunity for solutions to resolve potential security risks before they escalate,” she noted. “The more you involve and engage stakeholders, the more you mitigate risks.
“I believe building relationships results in increased trust and communication. When there is increased trust and communication, people work together more easily and effectively.”
By Don Wagner, TSA Strategic Communications & Public Affairs