News Article - January 07, 2010

  PHILADELPHIA - Fox 29 News has learned the TSA has notified Philadelphia International Airport officials late Wednesday afternoon that three of its bomb-sniffing dog teams have been decertified but should be recertified this month. This after Fox 29 Investigates revealed in a report Tuesday night the TSA's canine units failed testing late last year. Fox 29's Jeff Cole reported that at Philly International a Philadelphia Police Department canine team was keeping a high profile Wednesday in Terminal F while Mayor Michael Nutter moved quickly to calm any fears of the flying public. "Philadelphia International Airport is a safe airport, and we have a ton of personnel out there to make sure we're operating at peak safety levels," Nutter said.

   But city and airport leaders did appear annoyed Wednesday that they learned from reporters and not the federal security agency of three TSA bomb-sniffing dog teams failing to recertify. As Fox 29 first reported Tuesday night, the TSA dog teams at the airport failed recertification in late 2009. And a TSA spokesperson said about a dozen canine teams in airports across the county had the same problem. "You want to always hear that they know what they're doing, and you want to hear that the right security stuff is in place," said Steve Hiro, of West Chester. "If it's not there, they should do something about. That's what you want to hear." "Well, I think they definitely need to be trained to do what they're supposed to do so it's safe for everbody that's traveling," said Lisa Basile, of Whitehall.

   The TSA told Fox 29 the failures will not result in a significant reduction of canine presence at the airport, adding that the police department's 10 fully-certified dog teams could pick up the slack. But Congressman Bob Brady wasn't buying it. He sent a letter Wednesday to the head of the TSA urging new, fully-certified bomb-sniffing dogs be placed at the airport. The TSA said that's not in its plans. But while Nutter was talking up the safety of the airport, he wasn't so sure about the TSA's ability to communicate. "You can't really fight what you don't know, and you can't correct what you don't know about," the mayor said. "And so, if we get that kind of notification in a timely fashion, then of course we'll reorganize ourselves out there to make sure that there's full, consistent, complete coverage at the airport." A TSA spokesperson would not provide further details on the dozen or so dog teams that failed testing at other airports. But we do know this: the dog teams at the airport run by Philadelphia Police have passed, Cole reported.

Source - Fox29