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Security

TSA finally opens the door for private-sector canine screening

19 January 2018
Cargo screening with an explosives detection dog at Washington Dulles International Airport. Source: Getty

The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is allowing third-party explosive detection canine (EDC) teams to conduct air cargo screening – some 10 years after an official recommendation to do so.

The 9/11 Commission Recommendations Act of 2007 directed the Department of Homeland Security (parent agency of the TSA) to examine the use of third-party EDC teams for air cargo screening – but only in 2017 did US lawmakers earmark funding for private-sector companies to augment the TSA National Explosives Detection Canine Team Programme (NEDCTP). The dogs would be owned, operated, and trained by the private sector, but they must be validated by the TSA to screen air freight under the Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP).

The air cargo industry is broadly supportive of the policy, in the belief that third-party dog teams can play a vital role in providing effective cargo screening. A TSA assessment in 2011 concluded that EDCs were not a feasible solution for air cargo but this was contradicted by later academic research, and market surveys conducted by the agency revealed support for third-party canine providers.

Gary Wade, vice-president for global security at Atlas Air, noted that new ICAO regulations for screening cargo come into effect in 2019. “The capability is not there. The equipment is not there. Canines are the answer,” he argued.

NEDCTP trains and deploys TSA- and law enforcement-led dog teams in support of everyday transport security. Training takes place at the TSA Canine Training Center in Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio.

Chris Shelton, head of the Canine Training Center, said the TSA is “committed” to including validated third-party providers in the NEDCTP.

However, support for this approach is not universal. The American Alliance of Airport Police Officers (AAAPO) believes that the concept threatens airport security, on the basis that explosives detection should be carried out by trained law enforcement officers.

See related article at: http://www.janesairport360.com/article/9490/us-gazes-into-the-crystal-ball

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