I’m still surprised when a public figure like Senator Chuck Schumer opens his yap and utters nonsense and lies. His latest fork deals with aviation security – specifically who can investigate passengers at airports.
The TSA must use its dog teams to keep the airport security lines running if there is a shortage of staff amid the federal vaccination mandate for COVID-19, said Chuck Schumer, leader of the Senate majority, Sunday said. . . .
“If TSA fails, send the dogs in,” Schumer said during a press conference in Manhattan, referring to recent revelations from the TSA that 40 percent of its employees remain unvaccinated. . . .
“The dog teams are really effective,” he said. ‘They can help secure national security and allow TSA agents to investigate individuals more and more effectively on explosives. It really works and moves the lines. ”
I have relevant experience here. In the early 90’s, I was Deputy Director of Transport Security in the office of the Counter-Terrorism Coordinator. I also oversaw the anti-terrorism training aid program in terms of policy and curriculum. Diplomatic security had the task of implementing the program and doing the training.
One of the training programs was dogs used by foreign police to detect drugs and explosives. Dogs are great when they perform a specific, limited task. If you want to ensure that an auditorium hosting a presidential debate is bomb-free, use a dog. If you want to quickly search for passengers arriving from Colombia for illegal narcotics, use a dog.
But dogs cannot do the job that TSA employees do at checkpoints for passengers. A dog cannot check your identity document and verify that the picture on your license matches your cup. A dog can not examine you for metal or bottles of liquid with more than 6 grams. A dog cannot lay down a slap or throw a magic wand over your body to verify that your artificial hip is not a concealed firearm. The dog may sniff your crotch (and probably too).
Then there is the work limit for a dog. A dog can work for 20 to 30 minutes, but then needs a break. The dog’s efficiency deteriorates if he is forced to work for a long time. More important is the boredom factor. The reality of airport security investigations is that serious threats with illegal drugs or explosives are very rare. Dogs are working on a reward system. They are either trained with food or toys / games. If the dog hits a threat item, the hairy cricket is a ‘good dog’ and is properly rewarded. If the dog spends thirty minutes sniffing suitcases and passengers and does not invent anything, the dog may become depressed. There is no reward.
Other factors to consider. You still need to have someone handle the dog. That means a trained police officer. He or she takes the dog home with them at night. Dogs are not locked in a cage and are left alone at the end of a work shift. And let’s not forget that Sparky or Spot have to go outside and enlighten themselves. Most airports are not built with easy access to trees and grass. Increasing the number of dogs working at an airport increases the amount of feces and urine that the dog needs to pick up. Most dogs have not learned to squat in an apartment.
Once you consider all the challenges and limitations of using a dog for airport security, you quickly realize that Schumer is an idiot.