Airport Canine Teams Draw Concern

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- Federal auditors are raising questions about Transportation Security Administration plans to deploy bomb- sniffing dogs to screen passengers -- in addition to cargo -- in airports.

The TSA intends to field 120 canine teams at airports nationwide to sniff for explosives on passengers by the end of the year.

The TSA has tested canine teams in closed areas of airports in Miami in June and in Oklahoma City in August. Another test is scheduled in February at Washington's Dulles airport. In recent months, TSA has experimented with screening passengers at airports in Tampa and Indianapolis.

But a Government Accountability Office report released on Thursday said that canine teams repeatedly fail to meet a requirement to get four hours of training every four weeks. And GAO says that after short-notice tests of the teams, TSA doesn't keep track of where dogs were most effective or with which types of explosives.

"TSA has not deployed passenger-screening canines -- trained to identify and track explosives odor on a person -- consistent with its risk-based approach, and did not determine (the canine) teams' effectiveness prior to deployment," the GAO concludes. …