Wednesday, November 21, 2012

TSA No Longer to Breed Canines - Training Program to Continue

A puppy from the TSA breeding program.
There seems to be a lot of misinformation regarding the closing of our canine breeding program located at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. So, I feel a need to provide clarification.

A recent efficiency review showed the program was appropriated $1.8 million dollars for FY’12 (not $400K as reported elsewhere). It was determined that the program is important, but further investments would need to be made to take the breeding program to the next level. For example, it would take $4 million dollars alone just to build the facilities necessary. The program currently employs two full time Federal employees and has contracts with a local company for the up-keep of the kennels and for medical and health needs.

TSA decided to phase out the breeding program in an effort to best manage taxpayer dollars. IMPORTANT, however, is that TSA will continue to train the dogs for explosive detection responsibilities. Only the breeding program will be discontinued.

What you may not know is that TSA currently uses existing contracts like the one operated by the Department of Defense to purchase up to 80 percent of the canines used for the safety and security of the transportation domains we protect. That means that only 20 percent of the canines come from the breeding program in Lackland. Another 20 percent of the canines that are bred are purchased by other agencies and used in a variety of law enforcement or security functions.

While the breeding program is scheduled to cease all operations in by mid-year 2013, TSA recognizes that canines are a vital part of our layers of security. So, TSA will be expanding its canine training operations at Lackland Air Force Base.

A special thanks to all of the volunteers for their hard work and dedication with the breeding program. While these changes are prudent decisions, they will never result in compromising security.

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.

Odd Watch Discovered at Oakland (OAK): Steampunk Art or Potential Threat?

A watch with fuses, wires, and a toggle switch.

An odd watch that was discovered at Oakland (OAK) a few days ago has been creating quite a bit of chatter on the web. As you can see from the picture, this is not your everyday watch. If I could show you what our employees saw, you would see that it looked even more nefarious to our officers viewing it on the X-ray monitor.

From comments I’ve read on the web, some think we overreacted to a piece of steampunk art, while others understand why we would be concerned.

Is this watch dangerous? Not at all. However, we didn’t know that until the explosive detection team arrived and cleared the item. You see, when something is considered to be a potential deadly threat, it is protocol not to open the bag.

Terrorists take everyday items and attempt to manipulate them to make improvised explosive devices. Our officers are trained to look for anomalies such as this one.

After clearing the watch, law enforcement officers (not TSA) made the decision to arrest the passenger. TSA officers do not have the power of arrest.

Please take a moment to think about what you’re traveling with and how it might appear to TSA. I happen to think this watch is pretty cool, and I’m a fan of all kinds of art and homemade DIY gadgets, however, they’re not always the best things to travel with. Here are a couple of posts talking about this

If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.