U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY2003-06-04 16:39:06

TSA Canine Teams Screen U.S. Mail for Explosives - Pilot Program to Expand to Airports Across the US

A test program that uses explosive detection canines to screen mail could be expanded as a result of the efforts of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), airlines and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to get mail weighing 16 ounces or more back on aircraft.

Currently TSA-certified canine teams are screening mail at 11 airports as part of a national test project. After September 11, 2001, all mail 16 ounces or more was barred from cargo holds of commercial aircraft due to the potential threat to airline security.

Last November, TSA launched the joint pilot project with the USPS, several airlines, and local law enforcement officials, with plans to expand to all major airports by the end of the year, with the goal to increase the volume of mail carried on passenger aircraft to the same, or greater levels that were transported prior to September 11, 2001.

The program is being piloted in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Newark, San Francisco, San Juan, and Seattle.

"TSA is working hard to get mail back on planes in a way that is safe and helpful to the USPS and the airlines," said TSA Administrator Adm. James M. Loy. "The TSA canine teams are helping to raise the security bar, making it tougher for terrorists to succeed by ensuring the safety of mail transported on commercial aircraft."

"This pilot program has demonstrated that the airlines and TSA are working together to return a revenue stream to the airlines,"said Air Transport Association President and Chief Executive Officer Jim May. "This approach is a great example of government ingenuity applied to enhance security for the benefit of business activities that are essential to the economy."

"The dogs' mobility, ability to search large volumes of items quickly, and high level of accuracy in detecting explosives are indeed extremely important assets as we further develop screening policies for air cargo," said David Kontny, Director, TSA National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program.

Canine teams get 11 weeks of intensive training at TSA's Explosives Detection Canine Handler Course at Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas. They must be certified each year -- a stringent, three-to-four day process that includes searches of aircraft, luggage, terminals, cargo and vehicles.

For more information contact:
Transportation Security Administration
Mail Stop: TSA-6
400 7th St. Sw
Washington
D.C. 20590
United States Of America



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