Monday, July 25, 2016

TSA On the Job: Explosives Detection Canine Handler



I’ve been working as an explosives detection canine handler at the Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) since 2010. My canine partner is Doc. He’s a male black Labrador and is 5 years old.  He’s also a former Marine!

It’s a blast getting to work with  him every day. There isn’t a day that goes by when he isn’t excited to come to work. I have to say that his excitement is contagious. It gets me even more excited when I see his energy. So as you would imagine, we work really well together.

Canines like Doc bring an exceptional capability to the screening process. There isn’t a machine that can duplicate what he and I can do together. We’re mobile and responsive and that nose of his can’t be beat. Think of it this way. When your mom is cooking soup and you come home  – what do you smell? You smell soup. The dog smells the salt and pepper in the broth. He smells the carrots, the chicken and every other ingredient in the soup. That sensitive nose can smell more than delicious food though. It can also detect the materials that make up explosives.

Lori Potoczek
TSA K-9’s undergo extensive training at the Lackland Air force base in San Antonio, TX, before being assigned to a permanent partner.  Once that happens, the K-9s live with their handlers as part of their families. The handlers and dogs must develop a strong bond of trust and knowledge of each other to help handlers identify those subtle nuances their partner may exhibit when doing a search. My partnership with Doc has truly given me a worthy partner and a best friend.  I spend more time with Doc than anyone else in my life.  We work together, live together, and even go on vacation together!

It’s an honor to be a K-9 handler with Doc. Our mission makes a difference every single day.  Most people don’t realize that without our efforts, multiple things would come to a halt at the airports and transportation systems across the nation. While extremely cute, our partner’s noses are also an extremely important tool in the fight against terrorism. 






Lori Potoczek- TSA Explosives Detection Canine Handler

Saturday, July 23, 2016

TSA Week in Review July 15th - 21st: 72 Firearms and More


TSA discovered 72 firearms this week in carry-on bags around the nation. Of the 72 firearms discovered, 64 were loaded and 26 had a round chambered. All of the firearms pictured were discovered in the last week. See a complete list below.
Clockwise from the top, these items were discovered at: LAS, BWI, BNA, TUS, HOU and DEN


In addition to all of the other prohibited items we find weekly in carry-on bags, our officers also regularly find firearm components, realistic replica firearms, bb and pellet guns, airsoft guns, brass knuckles, ammunition, batons, stun guns, small pocketknives and many other prohibited items too numerous to note.

When packed properly, ammunition can be transported in your checked baggage, but it is never permissible to pack ammo in your carry-on bag.

You can travel with your firearms in checked baggage, but they must first be declared to the airline.


Firearm possession laws vary by state and locality. Travelers should familiarize themselves with state and local firearm laws for each point of travel prior to departure.

Unfortunately these sorts of occurrences are all too frequent which is why we talk about these finds. Sure, it’s great to share the things that our officers are finding, but at the same time, each time we find a dangerous item, the line is slowed down and a passenger that likely had no ill intent ends up with a citation or in some cases is even arrested. The passenger can face a penalty as high as $11,000. This is a friendly reminder to please leave these items at home. Just because we find a prohibited item on an individual does not mean they had bad intentions; that's for the law enforcement officer to decide. In many cases, people simply forgot they had these items.

*In order to provide a timely weekly update, this data is compiled from a preliminary report. The year-end numbers will vary slightly from what is reported in the weekly updates. However, any monthly, midyear or end-of-year numbers TSA provides on this blog or elsewhere will be actual numbers and not estimates.

Read our 2015 Year in Review post! If you haven’t read them yet, make sure you check out our year in review posts for 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Follow @TSA on Twitter and Instagram!

Bob Burns
TSA Social Media Team