Canine program announces graduation of 11 teams; latest additions to serve in airports, transit systems across the country

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National Press Release
Thursday, November 30, 2006

WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced today the graduation of 11 members of its National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program.  The teams are assigned to airports in Houston; Boise, Idaho; Manchester, N.H.; Dallas and Los Angeles and mass transit systems in New York-New Jersey and Baltimore.

Three of the teams graduating from this class will go on to serve in the Port Authority Trans-Hudson Rapid-Transit System between New Jersey and New York City.  In their new role, they will provide a visible example of the steps taken by local authorities to increase the safety of the traveling public.

“Canines play an essential role in the explosives detection capabilities of airports and mass transit systems.  With more than 425 teams deployed nationwide, the TSA-certified explosives detection canine community is an ever growing component of transportation security,” said Dave Kontny, director, National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program.  “This unique collaboration between TSA and local law enforcement officials ensures a seamless working relationship and provides first responders with the tools they need to respond to a wide variety of situations 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 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.