Canine program graduates seven teams - latest additions to serve in airports, transit systems from coast-to-coast

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National Press Release
Monday, October 16, 2006

WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today the graduation of seven members of its National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program.  The teams are assigned to airports in West Palm Beach, Fla.; San Jose, Calif., Houston and Indianapolis and mass transit systems in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles.

Officer Adolph Parker of the Houston Police Department and his Belgian Malanois, Tomy, were honored with the “Top Dog” award for their outstanding performance during the class.  Officer Mark Newlands of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office earned the Distinguished Honor Graduate award for his overall academic achievement.

“As the TSA canine program continues to expand to close to 450 teams nationwide, we are not only increasing our explosives detection capability in specific airports and mass transit systems, but we are increasing the overall TSA-certified explosives detection canine community,” said Dave Kontny, Director, National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program.  “Teams from several transportation systems within a community can work together seamlessly, providing a force multiplier effect in situations of heightened alerts, specific threats or special events that require a large contingent of explosives detection canine teams.”

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 and mass transit systems, 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 component of TSA’s Federal Air Marshal Service and 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. .