The detection of explosives is inherently the responsibility of police officers. Whether it be bomb detection within a city building, or the use of an explosive detection canine at an airport, these duties should and must be handled by trained law enforcement officers. The American Alliance of Airport Police Officers (AAAPO) strongly condemns the FAA’s new effort to bring in another entity to manage this work when they have not been able to get the core function of managing their own people right.
This week, the TSA issued a Request for Information on a proposed program to use explosive detection canine teams, trained and operated by third parties, to screen cargo at airports. By seeking out civilian third parties to conduct this work, the TSA is encouraging chaos and a fractured reporting structure, which sets a dangerous precedent and jeopardizes airport security. The original role of TSA is to screen passengers and baggage to detect threats and prohibited items at security checkpoints, so they do not reach airplanes.
TSA has been plagued by mismanagement so developing another part of their fiefdom by bringing third parties to do canine explosive detection work when airport police and TSA itself already does this work, does not provide for a more seamless and safer airport environment. Last year, internal TSA audits showed that screeners working at airports across the country missed banned objects 67 out of 70 times, a shocking 96% failure rate. Also, TSA’s Behavior Detection Officer (BDO) program has failed to identify a single terrorist and has proven to be ineffective despite multi-millions of dollars being spent on this effort. TSA should go back to their core functions of screening passengers and baggage and get those right instead of delving into managing other ancillary functions.
Airports already have law enforcement officers imbedded who have the training and are familiar with the airport and all necessary protocols and safety procedures to respond in the event of an incident. It makes sense that police should be the only entity at airports to utilize explosive detection canines because they have the authority and training to immediately mitigate and take down any threat that involves explosives.
“In spite of the continued and consistent missteps by TSA management, they somehow think they can properly oversee third parties conducting canine explosive detection functions. They keep racking up the chess pieces for their kingdom. This is ridiculous, and quite frankly, frightening when you consider their record. There is no reason to complicate matters and add additional bureaucratic layers and obstacles to security by having third-parties conduct canine explosive detection screening in cargo when airport police canine detection teams can and have been doing this work. All canine explosive detection functions should and must be performed by airport police officers,” said Marshall McClain, a former canine handler, co-founder of the AAAPO and President of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Association.