TSA’s explosives specialists in New Jersey earn federal award

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Local Press Release
Monday, May 11, 2015

NEWARK, N.J. – The Transportation Security Administration’s explosives detection team of 10 specialists who work in New Jersey has been honored with a team award for excellence by the Metropolitan Northern New Jersey Federal Executive Board (FEB).

The FEB honored TSA’s explosives specialists with a team award for their dedication and excellence in support of the fifth largest TSA workforce, 14th busiest hub airport in the nation and 38th busiest airport in the world. The team supports TSA’s efforts at Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR), Atlantic City International Airport (ACY), Trenton-Mercer Airport (TTN) and Wilmington Airport (ILG) in Wilmington, Delaware.

Federal executive boards build interagency partnerships and community involvement to create and nurture working relationships that address issues of shared interest among federal agencies outside of the nation’s capital. The boards are composed of the federal field office agency heads and military commanders in cities that are major centers of federal activity.

During 2014, TSA’s Newark-based explosives team efficiently resolved more than 786 explosives advanced alarm requests with none requiring the response of local law enforcement bomb squads.

“Newark avoided more than 800 hours of potential screening checkpoint closure time and passenger terminal disruptions by successfully responding to and clearing advanced explosive alarms,” said New Jersey Federal Security Director Tom Carter. “The efficient work of the explosives specialists prevented the delay or cancellation of more than 200airline flights.”

Through March of 2015, 506 advanced alarm resolution requests had already been responded to, up from 168 for the same time last year, which is “indicative of the great training provided and the value placed on the explosives specialists by our screening workforce in ensuring the safe clearing of suspect items,” Carter said. Most of these requests are calls to check on unattended packages and baggage with prohibited items that alarm for items that may be explosives.

Since 2013, the explosives team has handled 1,992 advanced alarm resolution calls and completed more than 878 documented training sessions for federal air marshals and TSA officers on improvised explosive device detection and advanced explosives and threat trends.  

The team also partnered with the New Jersey federal air marshal office and Naval Weapons Station Earle in Colts Neck, New Jersey, where the team conducted 15 explosives and explosives effects classes for 1,031 participants from 108 federal/state/local law enforcement organizations, military units, federal flight deck officers, federal air marshals, and TSA officers, supervisors and managers in 2014. The team also provided advanced training on bomb scene management and safety, aviation explosives countermeasures and case studies for federal, state, county and municipal police departments, fire departments, emergency service units, counter-terrorism units, special operations units, bomb squads and Air Force security forces.   

“This team of 10 dedicated explosives specialists has strengthened statewide inter-agency team-building, vigilance and readiness, and they are well-deserving of this honor,” Carter said.