Canines with the ability to detect traces of explosives on people have been added to the security efforts at Los Angeles International Airport.
The new K-9s are specifically trained to detect a plume of air emitting from a person, whether the person is moving or stationary, city and airport officials said. This is the first such K-9 program at a U.S. airport, officials said.
“The city of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles World Airports police will continue to take a leadership role in policing our airports and protecting the people of Los Angeles, while adhering to the principles of constitutional policing,” Villaraigosa said at a news conference in the Tom Bradley International Terminal May 12.
The new K-9 program resulted from a joint LAPD-LAWA review ordered by Villaraigosa of ways to strengthen LAX security following the alleged attempt by a terrorist to detonate plastic explosives hidden in his underwear while on board a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day 2009, an airport police spokesperson said.
The joint review was also consistent with President Barack Obama’s White House-led review, which mandated to aggressively pursue enhanced screening technology, protocols, and procedures, especially in regard to aviation and other transportation sectors, the police spokesperson noted.
“One of the areas that we examined was our explosive detection canine program,” said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. “We reported our findings to Mayor Villaraigosa, who then recommended to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to review its training protocols for the National Explosive Detection Canine Training Program to allow canine teams to discreetly screen passengers for Human Borne Improvised Explosive Devices.”
The combined number of LAPD and LAWA bomb-sniffing canines at LAX is believed to be the largest such program at a U.S. airport, Beck added.
Airport Police Chief George Centeno said the new canine program will enhance the airport’s ability to maintain a safe environment for the traveling public and adds another layer of protection to help combat potential acts of terrorism.
The Los Angeles Police Foundation funded the training of the LAPD K-9 units, while Los Angeles World Airports funded the LAX K-9 teams.