The canine teams are being assigned to airports in San Francisco; Miami; Boston; Los Angeles; Indianapolis; Cincinnati; Nashville, Tenn.; El Paso, Texas; Tampa, Fla.; and Washington D.C.
During the 10-week training program, law enforcement officers assigned to various airports are provided instruction on handler skills, explosives safety, and safe handling and accountability of explosives canine training aids. The teams spent much of their time searching for explosives in specialized indoor and outdoor training areas that resemble the airport environment, including aircraft searches where teams check cockpits, cabins and overhead storage bins. The teams also practice searching warehouses, luggage and a parking lot filled with cars, trucks, vans and buses.
"These 10 teams are another example of TSA's commitment to build upon our existing layered security approach," said Dave Kontny, director of TSA's National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program. "Our partnership with local law enforcement agencies across the country enhances the Department of Homeland Security's ability to provide a rapid deployable force of highly trained explosives detection canine teams to meet today's security challenges."
After returning to their airports, the teams will undergo several hours of proficiency training each week in their operational environment, encountering all the odors and distractions associated with a busy airport. To ensure these teams stay sharp, they are certified annually – a stringent, 4-to-8-day process designed to demonstrate that TSA standards are being met.
Because canine teams combine excellent mobility with reliable detection rates, their use has evolved to include searching areas in response to bomb threats associated with airport terminals and aircraft, luggage, cargo and vehicles, as well as serving as a proven deterrent to would-be terrorists and criminals.
The TSA Explosives Detection Canine Team Program is a cooperative partnership with participating airports. TSA pays to train the canine teams, provides in-depth training for the handler, and partially reimburses the participating law enforcement agency for costs associated with the teams, such as salaries, overtime, canine food and veterinary care.