Twelve new explosives detection canine teams joined the Transportation Security Administrationâ€™s (TSA) National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program following graduation on Thursday, Nov. 10 at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas.
The canine teams are assigned to transportation facilities in Atlanta, New York, Salt Lake City, Reno, Nev., Little Rock, Ark., and Tamuning, Guam. The teams from Reno, Little Rock, and Tamuning are new additions to the national program.
During the 10-week training course, officers were provided instruction on handler skills, explosives safety, and safe handling and accountability of explosives canine training aids. They spent much of their time searching for explosives in specialized indoor and outdoor training areas that resemble the transportation environment, including aircraft and terminals. The teams also practice searching warehouses, luggage and a parking lot filled with cars, trucks, vans and buses.
"This graduating class increases TSAâ€™s field resources, and provides greater flexibility in securing transportation resources across modes,â€ said Dave Kontny, Director of TSAâ€™s National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program. â€œFrom long-time partners like the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority to new additions like the airports in Tamuning, Reno and Little Rock, TSA is working closely with our partners in local law enforcement to further secure our transportation systems.â€
After returning to their facilities, the teams will complete a local orientation and certification. Upon certification, the teams will continue to conduct several hours of proficiency training each week in their operational environment. To ensure these teams stay sharp, they are certified annually by TSA evaluators.
Canine teams combine excellent mobility with reliable detection rates. Their uses include searching areas in response to bomb threats and investigating unattended packages in airports and other transportation terminals, vehicles, luggage, cargo and other areas, as well as serving as a proven deterrent to would-be terrorists or criminals.
The TSA Explosives Detection Canine Team Program is a cooperative partnership with participating transportation systems. TSA provides the canine, in-depth training for the handler, and partially reimburses the participating agency for costs associated with the teams, such as salaries, overtime, canine food and veterinary care. TSA-certified canine teams reflect the core values of the Department of Homeland Security â€“ providing first responders with the right tools, technical assistance and funding to protect our nation's interest.