Monday, March 17, 2008
The agency will train and certify more than 400 explosives detection canine teams, composed of one dog and one handler, during the next two years. Eighty-five of these teams will be TSA employee-led and will primarily search cargo bound for passenger-carrying aircraft. The first TSA teams began training in January and graduated today after a 10-week training course at Lackland AFB, San Antonio. The teams are expected to be fully operational this Summer.
TSA handlers will be non-law enforcement employees and will complement the 496 TSA-certified state and local law enforcement teams currently deployed to 70 airports and 14 mass transit systems. The new teams will enhance flexibility in the air cargo environment and allow TSA to surge resources when there is a heightened threat in any transportation system.
"Canine teams are one of the quickest, most efficient means of detecting explosives," said TSA Administrator Kip Hawley. "TSA teams provide flexibility in searching air cargo and the ability to surge resources when necessary."
The TSA teams will be deployed to airports with the greatest volume of cargo on passenger-carrying aircraft. The 12 teams graduating today will be deployed to: Dulles International, John F. Kennedy International, Los Angeles International and Miami International Airports.
In addition to these graduating TSA teams, approximately 315 TSA-certified local law enforcement teams will be trained and deployed during the next two years, raising the total TSA-certified canine explosive detection team population to more than 800 dogs. Complementing daily activities at airports and mass transit systems, law enforcement teams also participate in TSA's Visible Intermodal Protection Response (VIPR) program, providing critical capabilities and resources.