WASHINGTON – The Transportation Security Administration today celebrated the 35th anniversary of the National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program. The program continues its dramatic expansion since 9/11 by announcing the graduation of 12 teams. These teams will serve in airports and mass transit systems from Los Angeles to Atlanta.
Since 9/11 the program has more than doubled from 174 teams at 39 airports on September 11, 2001 to more than 420 teams at over 75 airports and 13 mass transit systems.
“Throughout the history of the program, well-trained canine teams have demonstrated their value in the detection of explosives in the fight against terrorism,” said Federal Air Marshal Service Director Dana Brown. “They have loyally served as a key component of our layered security approach and we look forward to many more years of partnership with airport and mass transit police in this program.”
The program had an auspicious start on March 9, 1972 when a Trans World Airlines flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) to Los Angeles received an anonymous bomb threat. The aircraft returned to JFK where passengers were evacuated and a bomb sniffing dog named Brandy from the New York Police Department identified the explosive device just 12 minutes before it was set to detonate. That same day, the program was formed.
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 police handlers, and partially reimburses the participating agency for costs associated with the teams, such as salaries, overtime, canine food and veterinary care.