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Homeland Security

Mass Transportation Security Systems

The Department of Homeland Security would build on many of the security measures recommended since 2004 for implementation to mass transit and passenger rail authorities by DHS, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The Department would also engage the industry and state and local authorities to establish base-line security measures based on current industry best practices. This includes all existing security measures currently being implemented consistently in the mass transit system and the commuter rail environment. These base-line measures could be adjusted in consultation with transit and rail system owners and operators in response to higher threat levels or specific threats in the future. Additional measures could be achieved through the use of technical assistance or security directives, which would specifically target mitigation of only those identified vulnerabilities. DHS would ensure compliance with safety and security standards for commuter and rail lines and better help identify gaps in the security system in coordination with the Department of Transportation (DOT). Additional DHS technical assistance and training would be provided by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Threat Response Capability

Mass Transit K-9 Program: The DHS has planned to develop a rapid deployment Mass Transit K-9 program by utilizing existing Homeland Security explosive K-9 resources. These mobile DHS response teams would be prepared to assist local law enforcement teams. These mobile response teams would be specially trained to work in the undergrounds and tunnels unique to some transit and rail environments. Building upon TSA's work in the aviation context, DHS would partner with local authorities to provide additional training and assistance for local K-9 teams. Federal Protective Services K-9 teams would also be cross-trained for utilization in the rail and transit environment. The mobile program would predominantly be used in special threat environments and provide additional federal resources to augment state and local transit and rail authorities security measures. These K-9 unites would be used primarily in order to detect explosives. As former DHS Secretary, Tom Ridge, said before the Sentate, "[The dogs]...can't sniff and distinguish everything in the air...biological [and] chemicals [is]...an area where we're going to rely on...the technology of detection."

For the K-9 program, the TSA primarily uses sporting breeds--such as Labradors, Chesapeake Bay Retrievers and Golden Retrievers--that usually are obtained from breeders and canine vendors from across the United States and Europe. These breeds were chosen for their gentle temperament and keen sensory capabilities. Individual dogs selected for the program must undergo exacting pre-acceptance screening to prove they are healthy, smart, highly motivated, and able to detect the necessary odors. The TSA, in conjunction with the Department of Defense, operates a breeding program of Labrador Retrievers at Lackland Air Force Base.

Each canine team, composed of one dog and one handler, undergoes several months of intensive training at the TSA Explosives Detection Canine Handler Course at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio Texas. Once the teams are certified by the TSA, they undergo several hours of proficiency training each week in their operational environment, which includes all the smells and distractions associated with a busy airport. The TSA also requires each team to go through an intensive three-four day annual certification to demonstrate they continue to meet TSA-certification standards. These standards are some of the most stringent in the nation and include demonstrated performances in searching aircraft (wide- and narrow-body), luggage, terminals, cargo and vehicles. These evaluations test the team's abilities to perform their day-to-day mission - protecting the skies for the traveling public.

Future Technological Innovations

Biological, Chemical and High Explosives Countermeasures: The President's FY 2005 budget request included $407 million for DHS for continued develop biological countermeasures (including an integrated threat agent warning and characterization system) and $63 million in DHS for chemical and high explosives countermeasures. These investments would enhance DHS's ability to detect and counter threats, including threats to transit systems.

The Department's Homeland Security Advanced Research Project Agency was also developing a Broad Agency Announcement on bomb interdiction for truck and suicide threats with approximately $5 million in funding that would be released in the coming months. This program would focus on research and development of next generation technology for High Explosives Countermeasures. In the future, these countermeasures could address the threat that terrorists might use explosives in attacks on buildings, critical infrastructure, and the civilian population of the United States. The goal of the program would be to develop and test field equipment, technologies and procedures to interdict suicide bombers and car and truck bombs before they can reach their intended targets while minimizing the impact on the American way of life.

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Page last modified: 13-07-2011 12:51:14 ZULU