TSA shows off new security program and its four-legged officers


TAMPA — The Transportation Security Administration demonstrated its new "managed inclusion" passenger screening program for the media on Tuesday and introduced some of the TSA officers guarding Tampa International Airport: Eros, Guiness, Jimmy and Langley.

Those are the four explosive detection canines standing guard at Airside E, sniffing passengers who depart the tram and head for the security line.

Gary Milano, the agency's federal security director for the Tampa Bay area, said this is an example of the agency moving to "risk-based security." Officers trained in "behavior detection" techniques try to ferret out passengers who may be acting suspiciously.

The pilot program has been running in Tampa since November and is piggy-backing on the precheck program. That program allows Delta fliers at Airside E to submit to background checks in advance of flying. That makes them eligible to go through the less intensive and faster prescreening security line, where they're not required to remove their shoes or surrender liquids.

But to get more people to use the prescreening line and reduce traffic in the regular security lines, "managed inclusion" allows trained TSA officers to select passengers who haven't been vetted in advance to step aside and use the expedited security line.

The dogs are the first step. Then, behavior detection officers observe the passengers. The third step is a computer that eliminates subjectivity: It randomly selects people to go through the regular security lines, even those who have been vetted in advance by the precheck program.